Politics

Northam Donations Are Pouring In From National Organizations

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Jack Crowe Political Reporter

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s Virginia gubernatorial run has benefitted from substantial donations by national liberal advocacy organizations as the contest draws increasingly close.

Northam and his opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, have seen a large influx of campaign contributions of late, but Northam has drawn a remarkable degree of support from national organizations. The pair received a combined $20 million in contributions from Oct. 1 to Oct. 26, with $11 million of that total going to Northam and the remaining $9 million to Gillespie.

The recent donations, which far outpace contributions during the same period in past Virginia gubernatorial contests, reflect the implications of the contest for national politics. Democrats, who were roundly defeated in 2016, view the race as a litmus test that will provide valuable insight into how effectively the party has rebounded since Trump took office.

National organizations have made the following contributions to Northam’s campaign:

  • Planned Parenthood: $3,000,000
  • Next Gen America (Tom Steyer’s environmental group): $2,000,000
  • Priorities USA (national Democratic PAC that contributed to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama): $2,000,000
  • Black PAC: 1,100,000
  • Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund (Michael Bloomberg’s gun control advocacy group): $560,000
  • The National Democratic Redistricting Committee: $500,000
  • The National Democratic Redistricting Committee: $500,000
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America: $300,000
  • National Education Association: $300,000
  • American Federation of Teachers: $125,000

Like Northam, Gillespie has also benefitted from his party’s national fundraising apparatus; the Republican Governor’s Association became his biggest donor with a roughly $10 million total contribution. Gillespie also profited from $2.8 million in anti-Northam advertising paid for by the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. However, Gillespie has not attracted anything approaching the degree of support Northam has managed to attract from a diverse array of national liberal advocacy organizations.

Gillespie’s communications director David Abrams said the liberal groups’ donations have largely been spent on negative coverage.

“Ed is appreciative of the support he has earned from those that want to see him elected, which has been a fraction of the more than $11 million that liberal outside groups have poured into Virginia to attack Ed’s character and distort his good policies,” Abrams told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The level of investment is representative of the degree to which the national Democratic Party views a victory as essential to the party’s future. The involvement of Democratic figures like former President Barack Obama, who spoke at a Northam campaign event in October, is also telling.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook decided to establish a Northam phone bank at Harvard University, in another example of the active involvement of the national Democratic campaign apparatus.

Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, described the high stakes surrounding the race during the Democratic National Committee meeting held in Las Vegas in mid October.

“We’re Ground Zero,” Swecker told The Washington Post. “All eyes are on us. I can understand that, because last year broke my heart.”

Northam’s office highlighted the broad support the campaign has received from groups devoted to a wide range of issues in a statement provided to TheDCNF.

“We’re proud of the broad cross-section of support we’ve received across the political spectrum. Having partners such as NARAL, VEA, the League of Conservation Voters, Everytown, and Planned Parenthood, among many others, helps ensure we can get our message out to voters,” the statement read.

With only days left before the election the race is tight. Real Clear Politics aggregated a number of recent polls and concluded Northam held a three point lead as of Monday.

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