Del. Steve Shannon (D-35) knows how to raise money.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), Shannon has raised a total of $238,909 in campaign funds as of the Friday, July 15 filing date. That makes him the eighth biggest fund raiser among all House of Delegate candidates.
The number is subject to some change, since the last fiscal report filed by the candidates was just after the primaries. But Shannon is still doing well for himself. On hand, he had $197,876, according to VPAP.
"I think in general what’s happening is that races are costing more and more," said Toni-Michelle Travis, associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University. "Now, they’re perceived as stepping stones into statewide office or positions within the party."
Shannon’s opponent Jim Hyland (R) had $60,475 as of July 15, according to VPAP, with $8,100 of it on hand. Although he has fewer funds than Shannon, by July 15 Hyland had spent more money than Shannon had ($52,375, as opposed to $41,033).
"I try to conserve resources with the thought that people don’t start paying attention until later on in the race," said Shannon. "Things won’t heat up until after Labor Day."
In any case, the amount Shannon has raised thus far is impressive considering that he is a freshman, said Fairfax County Democratic Committee chair Ginny Peters.
Shannon has done so well with his fund raising, she said, because "people are getting fed up with the right wing. They like moderates, they like people who pay attention to what they say and don’t have quite the agenda others have."
"I’m a firm believer that slow and steady wins the race," said Shannon. "Day in and day out, I try to be responsive to constituents. I try to knock on doors and spend time each day raising money."
According to VPAP, 37 percent of Shannon’s funds come from central Virginia, 33 percent come from Northern Virginia, and 16 percent come from out of state.
"Steve Shannon has collected a lot of Richmond special interest money," said Hyland.
MANY OF the Richmond associations that support him are based in Virginia’s capital, but have a presence throughout the state, said Shannon. Being the incumbent, he said, he got to know them.
The highest donor, One Virginia Political Action Committee, gave $20,000 to Shannon’s race. The Richmond-based PAC was opened by Gov. Mark Warner (D) in 2002 to help raise money for Democratic candidates.
Shannon’s second-highest donor at $10,000, Richmond-based Leadership for Va., was formed by Northern Virginia developer Jimmy Hazel and former Richmond delegate Panny Rhodes to help delegates who supported the sales tax increase in 2004, which Shannon did. He is one of the few Democrats supported by this fund.
Shannon also conducts fund raisers, takes a few hours during his workday to make calls, he said, and on nights and weekends makes neighborhood rounds.
"The reality of the situation is, because of the way that districts are drawn, there are very few districts in Virginia that are actually competitive," said Shannon. "Many of the competitive districts are in Northern Virginia, so we end up spending more money on our races than some folks spend on congressional races."
"With any race, outside money comes in," said Travis. "It’s certainly how (Douglas) Wilder made it as governor. With no campaign limit, you can make quite a bit of money."
HYLAND IS optimistic about his own campaign. "We outraised Steve Shannon in the month of June, and I expect we’ll have enough resources to be competitive," he said. "I don’t doubt he’ll outspend us."
"We’re making remarkable progress. The challenger isn’t as well funded as the incumbent," said Eric Lundberg, chair of the Fairfax County Republican Committee. "At the same time, we are working very aggressively, working hard at it, making phone calls. We’ve already raised over $60,000."
"We’re turning to reliable Republicans and a lot of people in Vienna (who) have known me for years, to friends and family, to conservatives and business leaders that are Republican-oriented," said Hyland. "We must have over 200 small contributors throughout the district."
According to VPAP, just over half of Hyland’s contributions are under $500.
"If you look at Del. Shannon’s expense report, it is going to be significant checks from significant interests," said Lundberg. "Jim’s report is much more small-dollar local money, indicative of local support."
As for Shannon, he is keeping his eye on the goal. "I have a plan for how to win, and we’re trying to execute that plan right now," he said. "The key is not to get obsessed with what your opponent is doing because it distracts you from your own game."
35th District Delegate Race