Virginia Republican and gubernatorial Ed Gillespie released his fundraising numbers from the first quarter of 2017, and they are impressive. Here are 5 things you need to know about Ed’s fundraising effort:
1. The top-line number is huge
$1.8 million is a huge sum of money in a Virginia statewide race pre-primary. Gillespie still has two Republican opponents to dispatch (although he’s in a commanding position), and is already raising money like a general election nominee. He outpaced sitting Lieutenant Ralph Northam, the slight favorite on the Democrat side, in the first quarter.
2. Cash on Hand matters a lot
In addition to the impressive haul, Gillespie appears to be running a fiscally sound operation. He’s now sitting on $3 million in “cash on hand.” He’s building a war chest for the general election, not burning through dough.
3. Small dollar donors chipped in
Gillespie didn’t raise $1.8 million solely on huge checks. In a pretty big sign of grassroots support, his campaign brought in 2,510 contributions of $100 or less. These donations are indicative of rank-and-file voters identifying Gillespie and supporting his effort.
It’s also a sign of momentum, as Gillespie brought in a little over 400 contributions of $100 or less in the fourth quarter of 2016. That increased 6-fold for 2017’s opening report.
4. Gillespie’s haul is historically solid
Gillespie actually outraised 2013 gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli in the same time frame, if you discount a $1 million infusion Cuccinelli received from the Republican Governor’s Association. Cuccinelli was the de facto Republican nominee, with no competition in that year’s nominating convention. That highlights Gillespie’s strength.
5. Despite spin, money does matter
Expect Gillespie’s primary opponents to downplay his numbers, or even try to twist them to their advantage. Despite what some may argue, money does matter, and not only because it can pay for the day-to-day operations of a robust campaign. It matters because it shows the depth and range of support for a candidate. The small dollar numbers show that Gillespie’s support is both deep and wide, a good sign for a candidate.
Expect to hear Gillespie’s detractors sound like liberals and decry money in politics. It’s their only play, because Gillespie has all the advantage at this stage of the game.