Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday in Virginia to determine which political party controls its state legislature in elections experiencing record amounts of cash that could serve as a barometer for the 2024 presidential contest.
Republicans currently hold a slim 52-48 majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates, while Democrats control its Senate 22-17. Voters will decide all 40 of the state’s Senate races and all 100 House of Delegates contests in Tuesday’s elections.
The pivotal showdowns have attracted enormous sums of money in a state where abortion has been a top issue. More than $158 million has flooded the races as of Oct. 26, according to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Both political parties have raised staggering amounts for the high-stakes elections. Republicans have hauled in just over $67 million for their Senate and House of Delegate candidates, while Democrats have garnered around $90 million during the 2023 cycle.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s PAC, Spirit of Virginia, is the biggest spender on the Republican side. His committee has disbursed $14.8 million to candidates as the party looks to take complete control of the legislature and pave the way for him to implement his agenda.
On the Democrat side, the state’s House Democratic Caucus has countered Youngkin’s PAC by shelling out $13.1 million to the state party and more than two dozen candidates.
Meanwhile, several individual donors have had a significant influence on the cash race.
Hedge funder Michael Bills, a Charlottesville resident, has been the top moneyman for Democrats in the state and has poured more than $12 million into the Clean Virginia PAC, which has expended $10.8 million to close races, making it the state’s fourth largest donor for the cycle.
Bills’ wife, Sonjia Smith, has given nearly $4.6 million to several candidates as of late October, putting her among the most prominent donors for the elections.
Florida billionaire Thomas Peterffy has pushed $3.1 million into Virginia to aid Republicans, nearly all of which has gone to Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC.
Pennsylvania’s most wealthy person, Jeff Yass, has poured $2 million into the state, which all went to Youngkin’s PAC.
Financier George Soros funneled $525,000 into Democrat committees, including the Commonwealth Victory Fund, Planned Parenthood Virginia and Virginia Future Generations PAC, also putting him among the top individual donors for the elections.
The Democratic Party of Virginia received noteworthy backing from the entertainment industry and at least one Silicon Valley billionaire.
Director Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, each cut $50,000 checks to the committee. Former Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg added $50,000. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, combined to pour $100,000 into the state party’s coffers, the data shows.
Each of them has donated millions of dollars to national Democrats in recent years.
The ramifications of the elections will extend beyond Tuesday’s state legislature results, as political insiders view Virginia as a 2024 bellwether.
Republicans won elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general two years ago — their first statewide victories in a dozen years — and they flipped the House of Delegates.
The victories in a state that had trended blue over the previous decade energized Republicans nationwide, which led to a narrow GOP majority in the House in 2022.
Now, Youngkin aims to hold the GOP’s narrow majority in the state House and recapture control of the state Senate, where Democrats currently hold a fragile majority, to give Republicans nationwide another boost ahead of next year’s elections.
Youngkin has embraced the national attention on his state’s legislative showdowns.
“I believe it should be a bellwether because Virginia leads,” he recently told Fox News Digital in the final stretch of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s elections. “I think we can lead and demonstrate that in a state that was lost, a state that was totally controlled by Democrats, we can in 24 short months come together — Republicans, independents, and, yes, some Democrats — and choose commonsense conservative leadership and policies that work. … I think other states should take notice.”
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