Many of the most generous donors to past Virginia Republican campaigns are holding back in the heated race for governor, underscoring Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s challenge as he tries to keep financial pace with opponent Terry McAuliffe.
Cuccinelli (R) is specifically having trouble luring many of the key contributors who backed the 2009 bid of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), according to an analysis of the most recent campaign-finance records. For months, Cuccinelli has lagged in fundraising behind McAuliffe (D), a businessman with a long history of raising millions for the Democratic National Committee and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Through May, Cuccinelli has raised nearly $4 million less than McAuliffe and $3.3 million less than McDonnell had at the same point in the 2009 gubernatorial contest. Although Cuccinelli has prevailed in races in which he was outspent by opponents, his fundraising deficit is a significant obstacle in what is likely to be a prohibitively expensive campaign.
McAuliffe has promoted the narrative that some Republicans, particularly in the business community, are gravitating to the Democrat because they are leery of Cuccinelli’s opposition to the new state transportation funding plan and such social issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. Democrats contend that his views in those areas could prevent the state from attracting companies and skilled workers.