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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.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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The Virginia Hams will battle it out against the Richmond Legends in the sporting event of comedy, creating scenes, songs and games all based on audience suggestions. The show at… Full text

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