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Money, money, money

How can you tell that we’re near a supposedly critical political fundraising deadline? By checking your e-mail.
“May I have just five minutes of your time?” one in my in-box yesterday from Republican guberatorial nominee Bob McDonnell asked, then got to the point. “In just 36 hours, I reach one of the last critical benchmarks before the November election – the June 30th fundraising deadline. This deadline is important as it will help set the tone for the remaining four months of the campaign.”

All the e-mail did for me was set the tone for more of the same coming from other candidates for office.

The one from Creigh Deeds’ campaign manager, Joe Abbey, was a personal favorite for me, in that it didn’t just ask for money. “As we head into these crucial final hours before the June 30 deadline, I wanted to walk you through a point we think will be the key to making the upcoming election vastly different – and better for Creigh Deeds and Democrats – than anything we have seen in Virginia before,” Abbey wrote, then explained how John McCain received the same raw number of votes in Virginia in his run for president in 2008 that George W. Bush had received in 2004, and still lost the state by seven percentage points on Election Night.

“What happened? Nothing short of a historic surge in the Democratic vote. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of Democratic voters increased by 504,000. That’s why the June 30 deadline is so important. We need to have the resources to reach these 504,000 voters. Help us reach our $100,000 end of quarter goal today!” Abbey wrote.

An e-mail from Deeds this morning was, I assume, meant to seal the deal. “Just this week Bob McDonnell said that the ‘kind of governor I’m going to be’ is the one that carries on the economic policies of George W. Bush. That’s not the kind of governor I’m going to be. I want to move Virginia forward in the Warner-Kaine tradition,” wrote Deeds, who nonetheless couldn’t resist playing up how “we must close the quarter strong” because “whether we like it or not, our opponents, the press, and the pundits will judge the strength of our campaign based on our fundraising numbers.”

I get it. Fundraising is a perception thing, though of course the Deeds juggernaut was neither about perception or fundraising when he came from the back of the pack to upset heavily-favored and heavily-financed frontrunner Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic Party primary.

Which isn’t to say that we could expect Deeds to pull another stealthy stunner in November. Democrats need to be able to “level the playing field,” as Sen. Mark Warner noted in an e-mail asking for money for Deeds, lieutenant-governor nominee Jody Wagner and attorney-general nominee Steve Shannon.

“All the progress we’ve made in Virginia could come down to what happens in this election. I’ve seen Bob McDonnell and his running mates stand in the way of bipartisan solution on too many measures critical to turning Virginia around,” Warner wrote.

“What we do today won’t guarantee victory in November, but failure to act in the next 13 hours could set the campaign back . Our ticket needs to push forward every day to win, and your support is vitally important,” Warner wrote.

Seriously, you guys pretty much had me at hello. I mean, I got the e-mail from McDonnell, so I know he’s hard at it, and I got another one from Bill Bolling telling me he’s trying to close out the quarter with a million dollars cash in hand, which to me seems like pulling a big number out of the air, but hey, he’s a politician, too, and politicians are good at pulling numbers out of the air, if not out of their asses.

“At the end of the last filing period, Bob McDonnell reported having roughly $5 million in cash on hand, much of it coming from direct transfers of millions of dollars from national Republicans,” Democratic Party of Virginia chair Dick Cranwell piled on in another e-mail. “Just last week, McDonnell began using that money to run the first TV ads of the general election. McDonnell is hoping that his new TV blitz will let him run from his hyper-partisan past and reinvent himself as a moderate. The next filing deadline is midnight tonight and Creigh needs your support today so that he can go toe-to-toe with Bob McDonnell and win in November.”

Enough, already! Please!

“This Wednesday, June 30 is a critical date for the statewide Democratic ticket of Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner, and Steve Shannon. The best way for our candidates to reach Virginia families and share their plans to keep Virginia the Best State for Business, the Best Managed State, and the Best Place to Raise a Child is to finish this quarter strong,” Gov. Tim Kaine added to the collection.

“The November elections are fast-approaching. I urge you to help elect these long-time public servants committed to improving the lives of Virginians throughout the Commonwealth. Help continue the progress we’ve made in the past eight years by electing Creigh, Jody and Steve this November. Please make an investment in Virginia’s future by making a contribution to the 2009 statewide Democratic ticket,” Kaine wrote.

I just can’t wait for the next flurry of e-mails asking me to surrender some of my hard-earned. My presumption is that I’ll learn how way even more important the next campaign-finance report will be to setting the tone and the rest.


– Column by Chris Graham