LYNCHBURG — Despite a packed field in the race for the Virginia House of Delegates 59th District seat, Del. Matt Fariss, R-Rustburg, is leading all three of his challengers in fundraising by thousands of dollars, according to campaign finance reports released earlier this month by the Virginia Public Access Project.
According to the report that covers the month of June, Fariss took in just over $10,000 in donations, with the top gifts coming from private individuals, the Southside Electric Cooperative, Phillip Morris USA’s parent company Altria and Golden Leaf Farms. He also received a donation of $500 from the campaign committee of state Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, and a $1,000 in-kind donation from Hyland Farms.
“In today’s political climate, I expected that I would have some opposition, but I think most of my 32 of the 47 people I have received donations from are private donors, and I think it shows that they feel like I am doing a good job, and because I have opposition this year, they were willing to come out and support me,” Fariss said. “I’m glad to have the support of my friends and constituents, and I look forward to more support as we go through the campaign season.”
Throughout the month, Fariss spent about $6,000 on fundraising and other expenses associated with campaigning, such as travel, postage and office supplies. Heading toward peak campaign season, his war chest holds $5,473 as of June 30.
In comparison, Fariss raised $750 and spent $3,095 during the same period in 2015 during his last re-election campaign, when he ran unopposed. During his 2013 re-election campaign, in which he also ran unopposed, he received $100 in donations during the same time period and spent $1,001.
During his three-way race for the seat against Democrat Connie Brennan and independent Linda Wall in 2011, Fariss brought in $9,500 in donations and spent $5,804 between April 1 and June 30 of that year.
Although he has run unopposed since he won the seat in 2011, he will be facing off with Albemarle County-based mechanic and Democrat Tracy Carver; Concord-business owner Marcus Sutphin, from the Green Party; and independent David Ball, from Buckingham County.
Of Fariss’ opposition, Sutphin leads with $740 in total funds raised so far. He began the June filing period with $179 and did not take in any contributions or spend any money.
Sutphin said he has been happy with the fundraising so far but hopes to do better as the campaign progresses.
“It has been better than expected, but we could do better,” he said. “What I’m looking for is money from everyday people, so we reject corporate money and political action committee money.”
Behind him, Carver has received a total of $200 in donations from a single person but has spent only $53 since Jan. 1. During the June filing period, he did not take in or spend any funds. Carver was unavailable for comment.
Ball, the most recent of the candidates to file to challenge Fariss, has raised a total of $34 during the June filing period and spent $13 on postage.
According to Ball, the $34 he has available is carried over from his previous campaign for the Republican nomination for the 22nd Senate District race in January. That seat was vacated when Rep. Tom Garrett won the Fifth District seat.
“I am currently in the process of fundraising,” Ball said.
More than half of the 59th District has voted for a GOP candidate in every election since the boundaries were redrawn in the once-every-10-years redistricting process in 2011, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.