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Who’s serious about running? Look at how much they’re raising

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Raising money to run for office is the part of politics that … it just feels dirty. But if you want to win, you have to roll up your sleeves and do it.

I often write stories from campaign-finance reports as part of the horse-race reporting that you see probably way too much of in today’s media environment.

What’s missing in the numbers is the context of what they mean.

As someone who once (feels like a hundred years ago) ran for local office, here’s what the numbers mean to me: if they’re good, it’s a sign that the candidate is all in, and if not, well, hey, their name is on the ballot, which is fine.

In that context, I want to examine the General Assembly races of local interest in my part of the Shenandoah Valley.

20th House District

This is the one that has my highest level of interest, in part because it’s my home district, in part because I think it’s one with a chance for a Democratic flip.

The incumbent, Dickie Bell, a Republican, after a tough re-election in 2017, is retiring, and Democrat Jennifer Lewis, on the heels of a strong showing in last year’s Sixth District congressional race, is up against Republican John Avoli, the former Staunton mayor.

Both are working hard behind the scenes, from a look at their finance reports on file with the State Board of Elections.

Avoli had to win the GOP nomination in a June primary, spending $36,767.91 in the course of that campaign, and since securing the nomination, he has raised $69,763.44 for the general.

Lewis is actually out-raising Avoli in the general, reporting $89,650.19 in donations.

24th House District

This one is interesting because it’s a rematch of a special election held after the incumbent, Ben Cline, a Republican, won the Sixth District congressional race last fall.

Republican Ronnie Campbell and Democrat Christian Worth are running neck-and-neck in the money race in 2019.

Campbell is reporting $149,275.59 in campaign contributions, Worth: $145,384.98.

Two serious candidates there.

25th House District

Another race with a retiring Republican, with incumbent Steve Landes running for the clerk of court job in Augusta County.

The GOP nominee, Chris Runion, dude is running serious. His total receipts for the cycle are $202,645.02, but he, like Avoli, had a primary to win first, so accounting for that, his general-election fundraising is $73,586.89.

Democratic challenger Jennifer Kitchen is a bit behind, at $39,353.04.

26th House District

Another rematch, from the 2017 cycle, in a district that can maybe tilt Democratic, given the fact that the D-leaning City of Harrisonburg is smack in the middle of the district, and represents half the voting population.

Finnegan had to win a primary in June, and since has raised $74,281.07 for his general-election campaign.

Wilt has a huge edge here, at $170,611.77 raised to date.

24th Senate District

The big fight here was for the Republican Party nomination in June, which incumbent Emmett Hanger won surprisingly convincingly, but only after having had to spend an otherworldly $599,130.61 to do so.

The Hanger effort has slowed down considerably since, raising $51,310.10 for the general.

Democratic challenger Annette Hyde is actually a small bit ahead in money for the general, reporting fundraising at $54,481.61.

Story by Chris Graham

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