In the latest indicator of his campaign’s strength, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie announced he raised more than $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2017.
The strong fundraising start comes after Gillespie raised significantly more than his two remaining Republican challengers for the party’s nomination did in the second half of last year. The former GOP chair and 2014 Senate candidate raised more than $1.9 million during that period, while Prince William Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart raised $504,906 state Sen. Frank Wagner raised $450,980.
Gillespie is the first candidate to disclose his first quarter contributions ahead of the April 17 filing deadline from the Commonwealth’s Department of Elections.
The significant fundraising edge mirrors Gillespie’s edge in polling, where recent polls have him maintaining a significant lead over Stewart and Wagner. Those same polls have shown him trailing both potential Democratic challengers in a hypothetical general election match up in November.
Ahead of the Democratic primary, former congressman Tom Perriello has moved ahead of all opponents in either party in the polls, capitalizing on low approval ratings of federal Republicans and an energized liberal base. Incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has received virtually every endorsement from the party’s establishment base, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe. With Virginia governors barred by the Commonwealth’s constitution from seeking re-election, Northam has collected funds for his gubernatorial campaign since 2015.
As of January 1, Northam reported $2,268,310 total unspent campaign contributions while Gillespie reported $1,860,392. Perriello, who entered the governor’s race in January, will be filing his first campaign finance report this month.