Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Show Me The Money!

Yesterday, Laurance Verga dropped a bombshell with the announcement that he had contributed almost $227,000 to his campaign. That's nothing to ignore, although if I had that type of money I wouldn't be using it to run for Congress!

The Verga haters pounced on the announcement pretty quickly, but I was frankly surprised by how many of them were Perriello supporters. On Twitter, former (maybe even current?) Perriello campaign staffers were criticizing Verga for raising so little money from actual donors and depending almost entirely on his own personal wealth. If Perriello's supporters are attacking Verga already he must be doing something right!

But what does this use of personal wealth really signify?

Of course in an ideal world of unicorns the Republican challenger to an incumbent Democrat would have a huge warchest that included significant contributions from the district, showing that they have built a network of support. But self-funding candidates are not to be ignored, given that the Republican Party has turned to them in the 2nd and the 11th as well. At this point in the primary I'd give a bonus to any Republican candidate who was able to bring in a lot of cash from within the district, but I'm not going to give a negative to Verga for being a self-funder. At the end of the day the TV stations and the like will still accept his cash regardless of where he got it. It can still be used to wage a serious fight for the nomination.

But this does set up an interesting question for Rob Hurt when he announces. It's one thing to use your own personal wealth on a campaign, I think it shows that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is. But will Hurt's warchest come primarily from 5th District constituents or from corporate PACs in DC that have been directed to his campaign by the NRCC and Eric Cantor? We know with Verga that no one has bought for him. We know with Perriello from day one that he was bought by George Soros and New York money. Who will be buying Rob Hurt? The people of the 5th District or the Beltway establishment?

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