Here we are again in a place we’ve been before as we find ourselves in a bellwether election, this time to test the nation’s temperament for the man in the White House. November’s results could give insight into the 2018 mid-term elections.
There are only two gubernatorial races in the country this year. Republicans are not expected to prevail in New Jersey so all eyes are on Virginia’s Governor race between 55-year-old Republican Ed Gillespie and 57-year-old Democrat Ralph Northam. That includes their respective political parties who are eager for a win.
Email boxes have been filled with the tiresome but obligatory chest-thumping emails as both sides point fingers at their opponent to expose their “big money” campaign contributions when, in reality, the money-dumping is happening on both sides.
After Saturday’s gubernatorial debate at The Homestead, the Republican Governors Association demonstrated the high priority of the Virginia race by pouring another $2 million into the Gillespie campaign, bringing their total so far to $3 million.
Ralph Northam had already received $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association prior to the debate but after Saturday he received $1.5 million from the Democratic National Committee who also raised the ante by providing three top DNC staffers.
During the primary season Northam had outraised Gillespie — $9.4 million to Gillespie’s $6.7 million — but most of Northam’s money was spent during the primary when he was Cuccinelli-ed by former Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello, fighting off an unexpected intra-party primary that left him with only $1.75 million cash on hand. The payoff, however, was a resounding 12-point win (56-44%) but he now has to hustle and restock the cash till for the long stretch ahead.
Gillespie, on the other hand, sat on his money during the primary, perhaps not taking seriously enough the threat of a very active and vocal but barely credible Corey Stewart who almost picked him off on the way to a primary win. Gillespie barely eked out a one-point advantage (43.7-42.5%), and that was only after his supporters statewide suffered varying degrees of nervous breakdowns as they hunched over laptop screens wringing their hands watching the slow-as-molasses poll numbers. Time will tell if that gamble pays off in November but the result was Gillespie diving for the finish line triumphantly clutching $3.2 million cash in hand.
Gillespie’s reward for his primary frugalness is three statewide television ads that began airing this week. It’s an advantage Northam does not enjoy at the moment but cash infusions will go a long way to get his message out somewhere down the campaign road.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be an exciting autumn.