Pink in a Field of Blue: Female Candidates Bring in Top Donations

by | Oct 28, 2019 | VIRGINIA POLITICS

Data from Virginia Public Access Project shows that, in terms of donations, Democratic women running for General Assembly seats in November are on top.

With less than two weeks until the election, campaign finance reports show that not only are Democrats bringing in the most money, but Democratic women are leading the pack with donations received.

“Their strong fundraising is indicative of the incredible support they have, particularly from grassroots donors,” said Kathryn Gilley, communications director for Virginia House Democrats.

Gilley said more Democratic women in the House would provide a greater voice and support for female-friendly policies, including providing equal pay for women and increasing access to affordable child care and reproductive choices.

The most recent data from the Virginia Public Access Project, which records contributions from donors to candidates, shows that the top three candidates who raised the most cash and in-kind contributions in the House and Senate in September are female Democratic candidates. In-kind contributions are donated goods and services given to candidates in place of cash donations. These donations can include mailers and postage, hosting campaign events or providing food, lodging, office space and administrative assistance.

The top September fundraisers in the House were: 

  • Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke, raised $580,336. Republican opponent Randy Minchew collected $287,059.
  • Sheila Bynum-Coleman, running for a seat in House District 66, collected $568,401. Opponent Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, brought in $302,756.
  • Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William, collected $532,974. Opponent Rich Anderson raised $43,299.

The top September fundraisers in the Senate were: 

  • Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico, raised more than $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions as she vies for a seat in the state Senate. Opponent Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, raised $421,362.
  • Del. Cheryl Turpin, D-Virginia Beach, collected $676,973 in donations. Republican opponent Jen Kiggans raised $330,128.
  • Ghazala Hashmi, Democratic candidate running for District 10, collected $645,444. Her opponent, Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, raised $289,075

Overall in September, Democrats running for Senate seats outraised Republicans, $4.9 million to $2 million. In the House, Democrats outraised Republicans, $7.1 million to a little over $4 million.

Top row, Senate candidates, left to right: Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico, Del. Cheryl Turpin, D-Virginia Beach and Ghazala Hashmi Democratic candidate for Senate District 10. Bottom row, House candidates, left to right: Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, running for a seat in House District 66, Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William.

A majority of the candidates received donations from EMILY’s List, a political action committee that aims to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office. Earlier this month, the organization said it plans to invest $2.1 million in an effort to flip Virginia’s General Assembly from red to blue. EMILY’s List has endorsed 39 women candidates in Virginia.

“We are hopeful that other individuals and organizations will follow our lead in directing their energy and support to these incredibly important state legislative races that too often remain under-resourced and underfunded,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a recent press release.

In September, EMILY’s List gave Ayala and Gooditis $150,000 each, their top gift that month. Bynum-Coleman was given $125,000, while Hashmi and Turpin received $25,000 and $10,000, respectively. Planned Parenthood, another pro-choice organization, gave Rodman her No. 1 donation in September — $167,918. Turpin and Hashmi received the most money from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus that month, $162,500 each.

Bynum-Coleman received the largest donation last month from Everytown For Gun Safety, a PAC that advocates for gun control. The PAC has given $126,000 to Bynum-Coleman, whose daughter survived a gunshot wound while attending a house party. Everytown has spent nearly $5 million during the last three election cycles to elect gun safety champions in the state.

“Virginia lawmakers failed to vote for stronger gun laws and now, in November, voters will have their say in the matter by voting them out of office,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a PAC that is part of Everytown, said in a press release earlier this year. 

When the September fundraising totals are sorted for cash only, and don’t include in-kind donations, the top three fundraisers shift a little. In the Senate, Rodman remains on top with $507,678 cash raised. Missy Cotter Smasal raised $488,356 cash donations last filing period in her bid against Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, for Senate District 8. And Del. John Bell, D-Loudoun, cracks the pink. Bell, running against Republican Geary Higgins for the Senate District 13 seat, raised $488,027 cash in September.

In the House, based on strictly cash donations, Bynum-Coleman is the top fundraiser ($470,456) followed by Ayala ($460,061) and Gooditis ($419,733).

Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg, running for House District 73, was in fourth place for most cash-only donations, at $308, 751.

The cash may be flowing in for Democratic women, but that won’t necessarily translate to votes on Nov. 5.

“It’s hard to know who will actually show up on Election Day, and political scientists are often surprised,” said Tracy Roof, political science professor at the University of Richmond. “If there is a lot of intensity among Democratic voters this year and lack of enthusiasm among Republicans, the typical dynamic could shift in favor of the Democrats.”

Written by McKenzie Lambert, Capital News Service. Top Photo by Patricia Cason, via CNS



Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia. More information at

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