Virginia is one of the most competitive political battlegrounds on the map in this presidential election year, which is why you can’t have your television on for long without seeing a campaign ad.
But the battle isn’t being waged by the candidates alone. Super PACs, which can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors, also are playing heavily in Virginia and flooding the airwaves with ads. But when it comes to getting into the wallets of wealthy Virginia donors, conservative super PACs are clobbering their liberal counterparts.
Through the end of June, conservative super PACs are far surpassing liberal groups when it comes to raising money from Virginians, according to new data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Virginia Public Access Project. All eight of the federal super PACs that have raised at least $100,000 from Virginia donors support conservative or Republican causes.
Those include American Crossroads, the group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, and Restore our Future, a super PAC supporting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Each has raised more than $700,000 from Virginia donors.
A few wealthy donors have helped to tip the scales. Richard Gilliam of Keswick, who founded Cumberland Resources Corp, has given $500,000 to American Crossroads and $250,000 to Restore Our Future. Gilliam also has been a major donor to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Roanoke businessman, philanthropist and former diplomat Nick Taubman has given $100,000 to American Crossroads. So has Abingdon-based Alpha Natural Resources.
Priorities USA Action, a Democratic super PAC run by former aides to President Barack Obama, had raised just $12,800 from Virginians through the end of June.
– Michael Sluss