Virginia House GOP Holds Huge Financial Edge Over House Dems Heading into 2013 Elections

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Have you seen a horror movie recently? Any interest in checking one out? Well, no need to spend $10 on a ticket, plus whatever ungodly sum they charge for artery-clogging popcorn and diabetic coma-inducing candy and soda. Nope: if you're a Virginia Democrat, or simply a Virginia citizen who doesn't want to see our state plunged into the Dark Ages by the Teahadists, all you need to do for a serious scare is check outcash-on-hand numbers over at VPAP. From a progressive and/or Democratic point of view, they're terrifying.So, which party has all the money as we head into an election cycle during which every single House of Delegates seat will be up for grabs (and in which Dems currently hold only 32 seats out of 100)? Hint: it's not the one with the donkey as a logo. To the contrary, as of December 31, 2012, Virginia's Republicans held an elephant-sized cash-on-hand advantage over Dems of something around $4.5 million. That's right, it's approximately $6 million "red team" to about $1.5 million "blue team" (note: I say "approximately" and "about" because it depends exactly what you count; also, there's at least one strange-looking number in there, for Adrianne Bennett, who either has $211,000 or minus $42 cash on hand, depending on which page you look at). [NOTE: See the "flip" for a list of the top Democratic cash on hand totals]
By the way, note that one of the top Dems in terms of cash on hand is Johnny Joannou, with $144,621, yet he's given only $11,500 to the House Democratic Caucus since 1997 (no, that's not a typo, and yes it averages out to less than $1,000 a year!). Clearly, we've got some "issues" here.
It's not just Cash on Hand, either; it's also the amount of money raised leading up to 2013. Out of the top 10 highest totals from 7/1/2012 to 12/31/2012, as of the end of last year, 9 of those are Republicans: Howell ($244k), Kilgore ($219k), Cox ($201k), Hugo ($198k), Ramadan ($169k), Comstock ($165k), Watson ($143k), Jones ($140k), Farrell ($128k). The only exception: House Minority Leader David Toscano, who raised $282,000 during the second half of 2012. Meanwhile, several Democrats in solid "blue" districts in some of the wealthiest areas of the state raised very little money (e.g., in the $20,000-$30,000 range).
Clearly, part of this advantage for the Republicans is that they're in the majority, and it's a lot easier to raise money when you've got the power. Another advantage is that they get reams of money from the usual suspects - corporations, fossil fuel interests, etc. Still, the fact that the gap is so large is disturbing. The question is, what are we going to do about it?