12th House District is targeted for Democratic spending
The group said it had 21,000 volunteers in Virginia who would also aid the candidates it endorses.
“James is really honored,” Harder campaign manager Marshall Cohen said, adding that he did not know yet how much money Democracy for America would end up contributing.
He said Harder, the grandson of former Democratic Del. Joan Munford of Blacksburg, hopes the group will help spread his message of support for education, local economies, and women’ss’ rights, and to tie Yost to GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, as an extreme conservative.
“We’re just excited to have a partner who’ll be with us on these mainstream issues,” Cohen said.
The other four House candidates picked by Democracy for America were outside the New River and Roanoke valleys.
Democracy for America is a Vermont-based organization founded by former governor, presidential candidate, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
The group’s current chairman is Jim Dean, Howard Dean’s brother. He wrote in an email Wednesday that Harder is a strong candidate partly due to “deep roots in Blacksburg” and “an instant connection with the thousands of students he attends Virginia Tech with.”
Yost responded to the endorsement by email Wednesday, writing “I find it disturbing that someone as partisan and caustic as Howard Dean is one of the top contributors to my opponent. It makes you wonder how much he agrees with Dean on the issues. Dean said he was ‘in favor of the sequester,’ something that has cost our local schools and universities hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know that’s not how the people of the New River Valley feel on this issue and that’s not how I feel.”
Yost said he is proud to run on his record, and said he planned to continue to push for economic development, good schools and public safety.
Democracy for America’s Purple to Blue effort targets Republican-held districts that the group deems to be vulnerable. Candidates like Harder, who Democracy for America earlier had picked as a “Next Wave” challenger, “are fighting on turf that’s historically been more difficult for Democrats, but simply can’t be ignored because we know that smart, people-powered progressive campaigns those districts can win,” a news release from the group said.
The 12th District shifted from Democrat to Republican in 2011 after longtime Democratic incumbent Jim Shuler stepped down. Yost defeated Democrat Don Langrehr in a redrawn district deemed to be more friendly to Republicans.
In last year’s national elections, voters in the 12th District tilted Democratic, supporting President Obama over GOP candidate Mitt Romney 51 percent to 46 percent.
Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine won a slightly larger margin over Republican George Allen, 54 percent to 46 percent.
In the 2011 race, Yost took 51 percent of the vote and spent $342,963, compared towith Langrehr’s spending of $106,321, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
That was more than double the total from any district’s elections of the previous dozen years.
Most of Yost’s money came from state Republican groups like state House Speaker William Howell’s Dominion Leadership Trust.
Some of the same groups are already contributing during this election cycle, with the Dominion Leadership Trust giving Yost $6,429 and the Majority Leader PAC, a GOP group based in Colonial Heights, contributing $8,500, the Virginia Public Access Project reported.
Reviewing reports that covered this election cycle through the end of June, the Virginia Public Access Project said Yost so far has out-raised Harder with $73,218 to $13,270.
But Harder said in a news release this week that “in the last few weeks” he had brought in more than $30,000.