Voters in two states will elect new governors next month. Given that the outcome of New Jersey’s race appears to be a foregone conclusion with self-funding billionaire Democrat Phil Murphy holding a double-digit lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Virginia race between Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican lobbyist and party activist Ed Gillespie is shaping up to be the year’s closest gubernatorial election.
Large sums of money are pouring into the race in Virginia, one of only six states that do not limit campaign contributions in any way. (The others are Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah.) This means that individuals, corporations, and PACs can directly contribute as much money as they want to campaigns in those states — and they are taking full advantage of the law in Virginia.
Thus far Northam leads the fundraising overall, with $7.1 million raised in September alone and just under $22.8 million total as of Sept. 30. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chair, raised nearly $4.4 million in September and $14.8 million through the cycle. As of the latest filing, Northam has $5.6 million on hand compared to a little under $2.5 million for Gillespie.
Northam’s single biggest contributor so far is the DGA (Democratic Governors Association) Action Fund, which has given him over $3 million in the cycle. The DGA is a 527 organization that can raise unlimited funds from individuals, corporations or labor unions but must register with the IRS and disclose contributions and expenditures.
Through the first half of 2017 alone, the DGA raised over $18.9 million, according to finance reports filed with the IRS.
Some of its biggest donors this year have been the pharmaceutical company Pfizer ($425,000), the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 of New Jersey ($300,000), and health insurers Anthem ($300,000), Aetna ($250,000) and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association ($250,000). According to the Center for Responsive…