BY WESLEY P. HESTER
Gov. Bob McDonnell has raised $8.4 million in donations in his first 27 months in office.
That’s nearly identical to the amount — $8.3 million — raised by McDonnell’s predecessor, Timothy M. Kaine, at the same point in his term as governor, according to new analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.
Unlike Kaine, however, the top contributor to McDonnell’s Opportunity Virginia PAC is the energy industry, which has donated $1.3 million, just north of the real estate and construction industry’s $1.2 million.
McDonnell’s top donor is Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy, which has given $307,000.
By contrast, Kaine had only drawn $326,000 from energy interests at the same point in his governorship. But unlike McDonnell, who has received no money from organized labor, Kaine had brought in $629,000 from unions.
Kaine and McDonnell did share a few top donors in common, however, like billionaire pharmaceutical executive Randal J. Kirk, Dominion Resources Inc., and G. Gilmer Minor III, chairman of medical-products distributor Owens & Minor Inc.
As of March 31, McDonnell had only about $300,000 left in the bank. So where did it all go?
Well, nearly half of it has gone to Republican campaigns. Since 2010, McDonnell has shelled out nearly $4 million to Republican campaigns either directly or through the Republican Party of Virginia.
That made a difference in last year’s statewide legislative elections in which Republicans added to their control of the House of Delegates and took control of the Senate after picking up two seats, creating a 20-20 split with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s tie-breaking powers giving the GOP the advantage.
More recently — and after the March 31 filing deadline — McDonnell, an oft-mentioned contender for vice president, launched a 30-second TV ad that’s currently running across Virginia touting the state’s economy and accomplishments under his administration.