With the Democratic primary behind David Englin and the Republican nomination behind Chris Gregerson, the race for the 45th district has officially begun. Although the Democratic candidate has raised more money overall, the Republican candidate had more money available at the end of last month. Both candidates loaned themselves money.
According to disclosure reports that cover the period from June 2 to June 30, Englin raised $3,138 from 33 individuals and Gregerson raised $2,093 from nine individuals. Englin loaned himself $12,500, and Gregerson loaned himself $5,000.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says that modern campaigns often benefit from money that candidates loan themselves.
"Most candidates today in both parties lend themselves money, though the amount varies enormously," Sabato said. "If they win, they get to raise money fairly easily and pay themselves back. If they lose, they likely will never get the money back."
According to Sabato, a candidate's loan can serve many purposes.
"Candidates spend personal and family cash in order to prove that they are in the race to win, are willing to make personal sacrifices to do it, and to allow their campaigns to present a decent total in the finance reports," he said. "It's the price of running in recent years — and yet another reason why people of modest means shy away from political candidacies."
Top contributors to the Englin campaign include the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, which donated $500; an AFL-CIO lobbyist who donated $300; and the campaign of John Russo for City Attorney of Oakland, Calif., which donated $250.
Top contributors to the Gregerson campaign include Erma Torricelli of La Mesa, Calif., who donated $1,000; Cecilia Marie Gregerson of San Diego, Calif., who donated $500; and Chris Martson, chairman of the Alexandria Republican City Committee, who donated $250.
RAISING MONEY is an important goal in any campaign, and this race is no different. Without an opponent, raising money can be difficult. That's why many local Democrats were surprised when the Alexandria Republican City Committee nominated Gregerson.
"I was sort of surprised that the Republicans would put out a sacrificial lamb," said Marian Van Landingham, the retiring incumbent for the 45th district. "Having an opponent always helps you raise money, so I think that Gregerson's entrance into the race will help Englin raise more money than he would have been able to raise otherwise."
Although the fundraising has changed with the Republican nomination of a candidate, Van Landingham doesn't think the political dynamics have changed much for the Nov. 8 election.
"If David were running against a well-known Republican, this race might be different," she said. "But Chris Gregerson is not well known in Alexandria."
Overall, Englin has raised $105,931 during the campaign and spent $103,394, leaving him with $2,537. Gregerson has raised $7,093 and spent $2,425, leaving him with $4,668.