Cantor amasses cash for re-election bid

Forget David and Goliath. In the money race in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, it’s Wayne and Eric.

Democrat Wayne Powell is challenging incumbent Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the U.S. House. From a campaign- finance standpoint, it’s not much of a contest: Cantor has 58 times more money on hand than Powell does.

Cantor, who has represented the Richmond-area district since 2001, has more than $2.2 million cash on hand. That’s far more than any other candidate for the U.S. House in Virginia. It’s almost as much as the state’s 18 Democratic congressional candidates hold collectively. (They have a combined $2.5 million.) And that’s just the cash on hand.

During the 2011-12 election cycle, Cantor’s receipts have totaled $5.1 million.

Only three House candidates – all of them Republican incumbents – have raised more money than Cantor: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (nearly $15 million); Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (about the same, which also funded her presidential bid); and Rep. Allen West of Florida (nearly $8 million).

Powell has raised only $66,000 so far.

Powell, a Midlothian lawyer who calls himself a progressive Democrat, has about $38,000 on hand. That could put him at a distinct disadvantage against Cantor’s deep pockets.

In an election year when the top of the ticket – the presidential race – could be close, money will play a large role in elections, according to Joseph Bafumi, a government professor at Dartmouth College.

“Money is very important … If there were a strong tide going towards the Democratic ticket, that would give Powell a better shot – that or if Cantor were to be embroiled in some enormous scandal. However, looking at this election, it looks like it will be a very likely victory for Cantor,” Bafumi said.

Bafumi said some candidates who have lost the fundraising battle have managed to win election, but that tends to happen when other factors are in play.

In 2006, for example, public disapproval of the Iraq war helped elect a Democratic majority in Congress, and in 2010, the tea party movement helped Republicans recapture the House.

This year, Congress’ approval rating is at an all-time low – 17percent, according to the Gallup Poll. The state of the economy will play a key role in November’s elections, Bafumi said. The success of the Democratic ticket depends a lot on what President Obama does between now and then.

“It’s tight now, and a lot depends on the economy … If it improves, it could improve Obama’s curtails,” Bafumi said.

In April, Democrats in the 7th District nominated Powell, a retired Army colonel, to take on Cantor. Before getting his party’s blessing, Powell said he expected his nomination to open the doors for more fundraising.

“Money is an issue in every campaign,” Powell said. “By June or July, I expect to have substantially more money – in excess of a million dollars with promises for more.”

It is unclear how Powell’s fundraising has fared since he got the nomination. The campaign finance reports on the Federal Elections Commission’s website are current through March.

As of March 31, Powell had received about 560 itemized individual donations totaling $37,000. (On his FEC filings, he listed contributions as small as $1.)

Cantor reported more than 2,000 itemized individual contributions totaling $2.6 million from nearly 1,500 individuals.

About 74 percent of Cantor’s individual donations have come from outside Virginia, according to an analysis of FEC data by Capital News Service. For Powell, the figure is 30 percent.

Cantor and Powell’s contributions differ in another significant way – funding from political action committees.

Powell has received only $600 in PAC contributions – 1 percent of his total contributions.

By contrast, Cantor has received 634 contributions from PACs, totaling $1.7 million – one-third of his war chest. Forty-three PACs have given the maximum $10,000 to Cantor’s congressional campaign. They included the committees for Altria, Anheuser-Busch and Comcast. Cantor also received big donations from the PACs representing the National Rifle Association, News America/Fox and various financial and health-care interests.

Cantor’s fundraising has grown since his initial run for the House a dozen years ago.

In 2002, Cantor raised just over $1 million. That number has increased every election since; for the 2009-10 election cycle, he raised nearly $6 million. (His main Democratic challenger then, Rick Waugh, raised less than $150,000.)

The five industry sectors that have donated the most to Cantor are finance, real estate, insurance, pharmaceuticals and health, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks campaign finance.

Bafumi said the better-funded candidate doesn’t always win. In 2008, Democratic challenger Tom Perriello beat Republican incumbent Virgil Goode in Virginia’s 5th District, with each campaign having raised about the same amount of money – $1.8 million.

Two years later, Perriello lost to GOP nominee Robert Hurt, even though Hurt raised about $1.2 million less than Perriello. Bafumi said campaign funding helps candidates reach voters. More money can mean a larger campaign staff, more television commercials, more mailings to voters and other strategies to win on Election Day.
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Fresh Air Fund seeks host families


The Fresh Air Fund, a program through which nearly 4,000 children from low-income New York City communities spend a summer with host families in communities along the East Coast and in southern Canada, is seeking hosts for the coming summer.

According to the organization, there is no such thing as a “typical” host family. First-time Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from seven to 12 years old. Children who are reinvited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. > Read more.

Godwin student wins in statewide STEM essay contest

Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women announced recently that Morgan Logsdon of Mills E. Godwin High School was one of five statewide winners of the sixth-annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for young women enrolled in their junior or senior year of high school.

The Council on Women established the contest to award scholarships to high school junior and senior young women who plan to pursue STEM careers at institutions of higher education. > Read more.

Varina meeting May 2 to address opioid crisis in Henrico


Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold a Community Conversations meeting Tuesday, May 2 to discuss the opioid epidemic in Henrico County.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Road. Nelson will be joined by County Manager John A. Vithoulkas and members of the Henrico Heroin Task Force for a discussion of heroin and opioid abuse and ways to prevent it. > Read more.

Baker ES to remain closed until fall


Baker Elementary School students will complete the 2016-17 school year at other locations and will return to a restored building in fall 2017, school leaders have decided.

The decision was made in order to provide ample time for repairs to be completed at the fire-damaged school and to avoid additional interruptions to instructional time. > Read more.

Henrico Police arrest 2 Georgia men in connection with January murder


Henrico Police have arrested and charged two Georgia men with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 18 murder of 36-year-old Lamont Cornelius Baldwin in the 1200 block of Dominion Townes Terrace.

Antonio Tyrone Johnson (above, left) and Santonio Rodrigus Brown (above, right), both 24 and both of Atlanta, were charged. Johnson also was charged with use of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon. > Read more.

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Dress for Success Central Virginia will celebrate five years of empowering women to achieve economic independence at “Making HERstory: 5th Anniversary Gala & Fashion Show” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton Richmond Airport, 4700 South Laburnum Ave. Dress for Success provides hundreds of women with professional attire; all clothing comes from public donations. When donated clothing is soiled, damaged or outdated, Dress for Success challenges local designers to create high fashion garments for the organization’s Recycled Fashion Show. Much like Dress for Success transforms the lives of women around the world, designers transform these unsuitable garments into amazing works of art. Tickets are $55. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/HERstory2017. Full text

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