Wealthy donors boost Per­riello’s fundrais­ing ef­forts to head of pack

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY ALAN SUDERMAN

RICH­MOND | Demo­crat Tom Per­riello, an in­sur­gent can­di­date in Vir­ginia’s closely watched race for gov­er­nor, out­raised his op­po­nents last quar­ter with big help from hedge-fund bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros and the global ac­tivist group Avaaz.

Cam­paign fi­nance re­ports filed Mon­day show Mr. Per­riello raised $2.2 mil­lion since he got in the race in Jan­uary, with about half com­ing from four donors who gave six-fig­ure do­na­tions.

His big­gest donor is Son­jia Smith, a phi­lan­thropist from Mr. Per­riello’s home­town of Char­lottesville who gave $500,000. Mr. Soros and his son, Alexan­der, gave a com­bined $375,000, while Avaaz gave $230,000. Mr. Per­riello helped found the non­profit, which is ac­tive in var­i­ous pro­gres­sive causes around the world and is not re­quired to dis­close its donors.

The big money cuts against the pop­ulist rhetoric Mr. Per­riello has used on the cam­paign trail, where he de­rides the out­sized in­flu­ence of wealthy donors.

“This is an­other ex­am­ple of Tom Per­riello say­ing one thing to vot­ers but do­ing the op­po­site for the sake of po­lit­i­cal con­ve­nience,” the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion said in a state­ment.

Cam­paign spokesman Ian Sams said Mr. Per­riello re­mains com­mit­ted to fix­ing a “cor­rupt” cam­paign fi­nance sys­tem.

“Tom is draw­ing sup­port by peo­ple across the pro­gres­sive move­ment who have seen up close his com­mit­ment to jus­tice is­sues and pro­gres­sive ad­vo­cacy for decades, not re­ly­ing on trans­ac­tional politics to fill his cam­paign cof­fers,” Mr. Sams said.

Vir­ginia has vir­tu­ally no lim­its on po­lit­i­cal giv­ing and is one of only two states elect­ing gov­er­nors this year. The con­test is be­ing watched closely as a pos­si­ble early ref­er­en­dum on Pres­i­dent Trump and is likely to draw heaps of out-of-state money as the race pro­gresses.

Ob­servers are keenly watch­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary be­tween Mr. Per­riello and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam as a po­ten­tial sig­nal for where the party at large is headed in the Trump era.

Mr. Northam has the party es­tab­lish­ment’s back­ing, while Mr. Per­riello, a for­mer con­gress­man who was re­cently en­dorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernard San­ders, has sought to en­er­gize the party’s ac­tivists and broaden the typ­i­cal pri­mary vot­ing pool.

Mr. Northam, who could not raise money dur­ing the 45-day leg­isla­tive ses­sion ear­lier this year, re­ported rais­ing $1.5 mil­lion last quar­ter, and closed the quar­ter with more than $3.1 mil­lion in cash.

His big­gest donors last quar­ter were outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Michael Bills, who is the hus­band of Mr. Per­riello’s big­gest donor.

About 90 per­cent of Northam’s money last quar­ter was from in-state, while Mr. Per­riello raised more than half of his money from out of state, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by the Vir­ginia Pub­lic Ac­cess Project. Mr. Northam also had more than dou­ble Mr. Per­riello’s num­ber of small-dol­lar donors who gave $100 or less.

Ed Gillespie, a for­mer ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and lob­by­ist, led the Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial field last quar­ter with $1.9 mil­lion. That in­cludes $25,000 each from Mr. Bush and for­mer White House aide Karl Rove. Mr. Gillespie, who, like Mr. Northam, has his party es­tab­lish­ment’s sup­port, re­ported about $3 mil­lion in cash on hand at the end of the quar­ter.

Prince Wil­liam County Board of Su­per­vi­sors Chair­man Corey Ste­wart, an out­spo­ken Trump sup­porter, raised $300,000, and state Sen. Frank Wag­ner raised $60,000.

Like Mr. Per­riello, Mr. Ste­wart is run­ning an in­sur­gent cam­paign that has fo­cused heated crit­i­cism on Do­min­ion Re­sources, an en­ergy gi­ant with un­matched po­lit­i­cal sway in Vir­ginia that is con­sis­tently the big­gest corporate giver in state politics.

Do­min­ion CEO Tom Far­rell gave $5,000 to both Mr. Northam and Mr. Gillespie last quar­ter.

The pri­mary for both par­ties is June 13.



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