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Lopsided Fundraising In Virginia's Gubernatorial Primary

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Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, left, has the fundraising advantage, but the Virginia GOP's convention format is expected to favor Cuccinelli, right.
Gage Skidmore: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/6238582161/, AP Photo/Steve Helber
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, left, has the fundraising advantage, but the Virginia GOP's convention format is expected to favor Cuccinelli, right.

New fundraising numbers in Virginia's highly competitive Republican primary for governor reveal a lopsided race. As it happens, the money in this race might not be as important as it often is.

According to recent campaign finance disclosures, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has raised twice as much money against his rival for the Republican nomination for governor next year, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. George Mason University professor Toni-Michelle Travis says that's an indication of his position in Republican party.

"Well, I think he's the establishment candidate," says Travis. "And the party would perhaps like to see him be the nominee, versus the tea party more extreme people."

Bolling has raised $962,000, compared to Cuccinelli's total of $538,000.

"Money talks, you know. Maybe Cuccinelli can pull it off, but Bolling has the money right now. And people want a winner," says Travis.

The dynamics of winning this race might not be that simple, however. Last month, the Republican Central Committee voted to hold a convention rather than a statewide primary to determine a nominee. University of Virginia Center for Politics political analyst Kyle Kondik says the move is expected to favor Cuccinnelli, who has strong support among an activist wing of the party that will have a stronger voice at a convention verses a statewide primary.

"I think Cuccinelli is still a heavy favorite to be the nominee, barring some sort of surprise, and I don't think the fundraising means much."

Former Alexandria Republican Committee Chairman Chris Marston agrees that the fundraising totals might not mean as much in the campaign between Cuccinelli and Bolling. He says that while a statewide primary could have required spending on television and direct mail, the mechanics of winning in a convention are different.

"Organizing for a convention is much more of a grassroots person-to-person effort than a paid effort," he says.

One indication in the difference between the candidates is the number who contributed $100 or less, small-time donors. Bolling has about 300. Cuccinelli, on the other hand, has more than 3,000.

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