As local campaigns for delegate get underway in Arlington, candidates are receiving thousands in political contributions. For voters, knowing just who gives how much to whom and why adds to understanding who and what a candidate represents.
Running unopposed in Arlington are Dels. Adam Ebbin (D-49), Al Eisenberg (D-47) and Bob Brink (D-48), but all three are still raising campaign dollars.
According to campaign finance reports from the Virginia Public Access Project, Ebbin has raised the most since January 2004, bringing in more than $86,000. Ebbin has spent about $52,000, leaving him with $35,000 on hand. Among his largest contributors are the Dominion Political Action Committee (PAC), representing the Dominion utility company with a donation of $4,229, and the Virginia Auto Dealers Association, which gave about $2,500. Ebbin, a member of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee also enjoys broad support from the health care sector, including a $2,000 donation from the Virginia Optometry Association.
"I try to be fair as a member of the committee," said Ebbin. "I try to see to it that the optical health of citizens is of more concern to professionals in that field than commercial interests," said Ebbin. "Some people just give money because they are happy with the point of view I express."
Ebbin said others donate because contributions to Ebbin's campaign sometimes help to fund Democratic runs for the House in other districts, like Paula Miller's bid for the House seat in the 87th district, representing Norfolk.
"Bob, Al and I all contributed," said Ebbin.
Ebbin's other benefactors include a PAC for shipping company UPS. Individual donors include local Democratic Web designer Dennis Coyle — who designed Ebbin's Web site along with that of 45th District candidate Libby Garvey's — and Mayor of Alexandria Bill Euille.
Brink has financed one-third of his campaign, about $10,000 with his own money. Since January, Brink has brought in more than $26,000 in other donations but his last report to the state indicates his campaign has about $8,800 on hand. Eisenberg has raised more than $14,000 and currently has about $8,500 in his campaign's account. His largest single contributor is $1,000 from the UPS PAC. Smaller donations have come from other PACs representing interests like cable television, banks, credit unions and the Virginia State Police. A $250 donation came from Friends of Moran, representing U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).
In the race for Marian Van Landingham's 45th District seat, Laura Mandala has raised the most, totaling some $73,000. The bulk of that money, $57,000, comes from Edward Spoden, an independent contractor who has dated the candidate for the past six years.
"I've supported issues that are important to the Mandala campaign for many years — long before I met Laura," said Spoden, an Alexandria native who identified human rights, animal rights and conservation as important issues. "I think Laura has shown a commitment to this community that makes her candidacy stand out from the rest."
David Englin, a former Air Force officer turned political consultant, has raised about $35,000 since the start of his campaign. Englin's largest individual contributor is Michael English, his younger brother. After marrying his wife, Shayna Wolin, Englin — born David English — chose to combine his moniker with hers.
The money donated by his brother, a local artist, Englin said, carries sentimental attachment dating back to his childhood.
"I was raised by a single mom," said Englin. "When she found out she was pregnant with me, she started saving away a little bit each week, like $5 at a time. She was the kind of person who saved over many years. That money grew."
Englin's mother passed away four years ago, leaving the money with Michael.
"All of the reasons I'm in public service, all of the reasons I'm a Democrat, are tied to the values my mother instilled in us," said Englin.
Englin raised almost $8,000 via online donations, more than 20 percent of his fundraising total. The Englin campaign's Web site is drawing much attention.
"There's a clear contrast in the types of races that are being waged in Virginia," said Brian Reich, editor of Campaign Web Review, a weblog that explores how political campaigns use the Internet. "One is the traditional, media-driven kind of campaign that uses expensive television advertising. The other kind of campaign, which Englin is running, uses a grassroots effort to create a much larger and more committed group of supporters. The Englin campaign's use of the Web is above the level of many congressional campaigns," said Reich. "I'm sure that's driving their unusually high rate of online donations."
Arlington School Board Chairwoman Libby Garvey has the largest number of individual contributors, a total of 35. Garvey has raised more than $29,000. Her list of donors includes some recognizable names in Arlington like Pete Rousselot of the county's Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee, fellow school board member Mary Hynes, and Andres Tobar, executive director of the Shirlington Education and Employment Center and County Board member Paul Ferguson.
"I'm quite pleased with the number of people who have donated," said Garvey. "I consider it a sign of broad support."
Elsie Mosqueda, a former aide to Del. Brian Moran, has raised $30,050 for her campaign. Moran is among her largest contributors, with $2,500.
Former delegate and candidate Richard Hobson has raised $10,500 while candidate Jim Lay, according to his current report, has about $29,000. Most of that is from four contributions of $5,000 each from four contributors including relative Rodney Lay. The Crystal City restaurant also donated $1,000.