Stewart’s Still Fundraising Even Though He Lost The Virginia Governor Race

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter
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Former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart lost in a narrow Republican primary to Ed Gillespie, but that hasn’t stopped him from fundraising after the election, according to an email sent from the campaign Thursday afternoon.

The candidate came far closer to winning than early polls projected he would. He earned 42.5 percent, compared to Gillespie’s 43.74 percent.

“What we did last Tuesday was nothing short of remarkable and without the support you gave us, we could not have achieved the same results,” Finance Director Liz Curtis told supporters in the latest fundraising email. “Everyone counted us out — the media, the establishment, and the left. Despite this and despite being outspent 5 to 1, we came within 1.5% of winning the primary for Governor.”

The email asserts that Stewart can’t close out his campaign account because there is a significant deficit that needs to be paid first.

However, state finance filings don’t agree with that assessment of the facts. The candidate’s governor account had $186,633 in available cash as of June 1, only 12 days before the primary voting took place. Additionally, Stewart still has access to $9,106 in his account for a prior run for lieutenant governor, and $6,419 in a prior account for a run for his current position as chair of the Prince William County Board Of Supervisors.

To normalize those numbers, the campaign spent $380,083 between April 1 and June 1, an average of $6,230.87 per day. Assuming his costs remained constant, he could have spent $81,001.30 over the course of the final days of the campaign, giving him an additional $105,631.70 to blow through in last-minute ad buys, according to numbers the campaign filed with the state.

Stewart was quick to indicate his interest in running against Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018 the day after he lost the primary election.

“Kaine is Vulnerable,” the former candidate said June 14. He also indicated that he would need to take a few weeks or more to actually decide on whether or not to actually run.

Stewart has a history of using past campaign committees to fund current campaigns, indicating that it’s likely he could also use any balance on the gubernatorial account to fund his Senate race. The use of prior campaign balances to fund a current campaign is currently legal under state and federal law.

The candidate’s first major injection of cash came from a combined $818,250 from his prior campaign committees for his runs. He also transferred $46,538 from his lieutenant governor campaign account in the early days of his candidacy. Those transfers make up the largest and 7th largest donations to his campaign overall, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

The final campaign reports required by state law have yet to be filed, so it’s uncertain how much the Stewart campaign actually spent in the final 13 days of the campaign.

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