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In Virginia, the race to replace longtime Eighth District Congressman Jim Moran has become an expensive proposition. The 10 Democrats running in the primary have raised nearly $2 million in the first quarter.
Former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer leads the pack, raising almost $700,000 in the first quarter of this year alone. That means he's likely to raise more than a million dollars before the June 10 primary.
"The real question is can the Beyer campaign spend it as effectively as they appear to be able to raise it, and by effectively I mean in targeting their supporters to get them out to vote on primary day," says Quentin Kidd, a professor with at Christopher Newport University.
Beyer raised more than twice as much as his closest competitor, former Urban League of Northern Virginia president Lavern Chatman, who benefited from a fundraiser featuring Oprah Winfrey. Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille came in third place in the sweepstakes for contributions.
"It seems pretty clear to me that the other Democrats in the field are really going to have to up their fundraising game to compete effectively for this nomination," says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington.
Campaign finance records show the candidates have already spent more than $600,000, mostly on hiring staff and sending out direct mail. University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Kyle Kondik says money won't win the race, but it will help voters know who's who.
"It's such a big field and it's going to take a relatively small percentage of the vote to win. I think there's still a lot of uncertainty about it," he says.
Because the field is so large, Kondik says the winning candidate could score a victory with as few as 10,000 votes — for a congressional seat that has more than 600,000 residents.