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McAuliffe Opens Financial Lead In Race For Virginia Governor

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The race for the Virginia Governor's Mansion is gaining steam as well as dollar signs. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe raked in more than $5 million during the first quarter of 2013, opening a huge advantage over Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli, who raised about half that amount.

University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Geoff Skelley says it's important to remember that elected officials by law cannot raise money during the General Assembly session, which was a handicap for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

"This caveat about, you know, Cuccinnelli couldn't really start raising money is something that, I think, it's worth seeing if that really did have an effect," Skelley says.

For now, that means that Cuccinnelli's ability to raise money is still in question.

"Now, granted, a lot of fundraising is based on staff work and finding people to call for money so you can be ready for Cuccinnelli to resume fundraising once he was legally able to," Skelley says.

Monday was the deadline for candidates in Virginia's odd-year elections to file quarterly campaign finance reports with the State Board of Elections. So far, the results have been lucrative.

"Voters in Virginia will have more ads than they could ever wish for," says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor with the University of Mary Washington. "They will have plenty of opportunity to hear why each of these candidates thinks they should be governor, and they will hear even more about why they think the other guy shouldn't be governor."

Because it's one of two gubernatorial races this year, the campaign for Virginia governor will be closely watched as a bellwether for momentum heading into the 2014 mid-term elections.

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