Democrats are pushing hard to flip Central Virginia’s seats in the General Assembly by putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaign war chests.
Democrats outraised their Republican counterparts in six out of 10 local races contested between the two parties, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Chief among donors locally were longtime Democratic supporters and husband and wife Michael Bills and Sonjia Smith, who gave $87,500 in the latest reporting period, which covers activity from May 31 to June 30.
17th Senate District
Democrats have high hopes for the 17th Senate District, which covers part of Albemarle, Culpeper, Spotsylvania and Louisa counties and all of Orange County and Fredericksburg.
The district has split rather evenly between supporting Democrats and Republicans in recent elections, with the winning side only taking the vote by roughly 4 or 5 percentage points in statewide elections.
Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, is seeking his third four-year term. In 2015, he received more than 60% of the vote. In 2011, he first won his seat by fewer than 300 votes.
Reeves defeated Rich Breeden for the GOP nomination in June.
He will face former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer, who triumphed in the Democratic primary over Ben Hixon.
Laufer raised more than three times as much as Reeves in the reporting period.
She received $157,987, of which $70,000 came from Bills and Smith. She also received several donations of $1,000 or more from local residents or Democratic political action committees.
Other than Bills and Smith, her biggest donor was Barbara Fried, a Crozet developer and member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors who contributed $5,000. She also received 548 donations of less than $100 to total $8,899.
Laufer spent $69,693 and has $193,592 remaining.
Reeves gathered $43,655 in the period, mostly from bigger donations by business owners and political action committees, such as banks, real estate and the Virginia Distillers. His biggest contributor was Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, which donated $5,000.
Reeves spent $102,030 on campaign staff, advertising and gifts for volunteers. He has $223,223 remaining.
In the final reporting period, Hixon raised $21,117, while Breeden got $1,647.
58th House District
Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, handily outraised his Democratic challenger in the 58th House District.
The district, which Bell has represented since 2002, covers all of Greene County and parts of Albemarle, Rockingham and Fluvanna counties.
Bell gathered $41,645. His biggest contribution was $15,000 from the Virginians for Rob Bell PAC. Bell established the PAC in 2012 when he planned his first run for state attorney general.
The PAC is not fundraising and last received a donation in 2017, when Bell planned to run for the office. It contributed to a few other races and has $236,027 remaining.
Bell spent $10,298, mostly on consulting, including $45 to former Charlottesville City Councilor-turned-radio host Rob Schilling, the last Republican on the panel.
Bell has $308,904 remaining.
His opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Alcorn, raised $8,885. Her biggest contribution was $2,500 from the Clean Virginia Fund. She also received $150 from Jim Hingeley, who is running for Albemarle County commonwealth’s attorney as a Democrat.
She spent $7,004 mostly on consulting and has $11,074 remaining.
25th House District
Bills and Smith gave Democrats the monetary edge in the conservative 25th House District, which covers parts of Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham counties.
Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, chairman of the House Education Committee, is not seeking re-election after holding the seat for more than 22 years.
Rockingham County businessman Chris Runion won the GOP primary to succeed Landes and will face Augusta County activist Jenni Kitchen.
Kitchen received a total of $12,505. Of that, she got $10,000 from Bills and Smith and $1,000 from Kay Ferguson. She spent $1,471, with many of the expenses listed as coffee during events or meetings.
Kitchen has $14,178 left.
Runion received $10,497 during the reporting period. He got $1,000 from House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Mount Jackson, and $500 from Landes’ campaign committee.
Runion also got donations of $1,433 from the 25th District Republican committee and $3,500 from Heifer Investments.
Janice Allen, who will be on the ballot as an independent, received no money and has $132.36.
Other area seats
Democrat Tim Hickey outraised incumbent Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell, in the 59th District. The seat, held by Fariss since 2010, covers Appomattox and Buckingham counties and parts of Albemarle, Campbell and Nelson counties.
Hickey got $8,206, spent $7,146 and has $2,127 remaining.
In the 57th District, Sally Hudson was victorious in the Democratic primary over City Councilor Kathy Galvin and will run unopposed in the November election. The seat represents Charlottesville and surrounding parts of Albemarle. Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, did not seek re-election.
The reports show the total for the campaign, with Hudson gathering $207,315 in donations to Galvin’s $95,223.
In the 25th Senate District, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, will face area attorney Elliott Harding, who is running without party affiliation. Harding was not certified to appear on the ballot until last week and has raised no funds.
Deeds is the region’s only Democratic state senator and has served since 2001. His seat covers part of Albemarle County, all of Charlottesville, Buena Vista, Covington and Lexington, and all of Alleghany, Bath, Nelson, Highland and Rockbridge counties.
Deeds had $3,750 in donations from PACs and has $123,330 remaining.
Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, R-Mount Solon, overcame a primary challenge from Tina Freitas last month and vastly outraised his Democratic challenger, Annette Hyde.
Hanger gathered $65,304, mostly from PACs. He spent $165,494 and has $24,435 remaining.
Hyde received a $5,000 donation from Smith, which put her total at $11,543 for the period. She spent $8,044 and has $13,525 left.
Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, is seeking his first full term in the 22nd District, which is all of Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland and Prince Edward counties and parts of Louisa County and Lynchburg.
He raised $15,824, spent $2,344 and has $65,958 remaining.
Peake’s Democratic opponent, Dakota Claytor, received $18.69. He spent $52.63 and has $29.26 remaining.
Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, was outraised by his Democratic challenger in the 30th District. The seat covers Madison and Orange counties and part of Culpeper County.
It is not clear whether Freitas, who reported only $250 in the period, will appear on the ballot because he filed paperwork after the June 11 deadline.
Democrat Ann Ridgeway, who is currently the only name certified for the ballot, raised $7,735, spent $5,566 and has $6,489 left.
In the 20th District, Democrat Jennifer Lewis and Republican John Avoli are vying for the seat being vacated by Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton. The district represents Highland County, Staunton, Waynesboro and parts of Nelson and Augusta counties.
Lewis raised $10,702, spent $6,254 and has $14,708 remaining.
Avoli, who won the primary over Dave Bourne, raised $2,850 and spent $18,159. He has $2,330 remaining.
Del. John McGuire, R-Louisa, was outraised by his Democratic opponent Juanita Jo Matkins in the 56th District, which covers Louisa County and parts of Goochland, Henrico and Spotsylvania counties.
Matkins raised $18,181 to McGuire’s $12,711.
Del. R. Lee Ware Jr., R-Powhatan, outraised his Democratic opponent, Mike Asip. Ware had $4,600 in donations to Asip’s $2,425.
Ware’s 65th District covers Powhatan County and parts of Fluvanna, Goochland and Chesterfield counties. He is chairman of the House Finance Committee.