Tim Kaine Outraises George Allen in First Quarter

Tim Kaine Outraises George Allen in First Quarter

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - April 3, 2012

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine raised a whopping $2.2 million over the past three months for his U.S. Senate campaign, outstripping the $1.4 million haul of presumed GOP nominee George Allen. The numbers aren't surprising in the race, which figures to be among the most expensive in the county.

Though delighted with the first-quarter total, Kaine's campaign manager projects the contest for the open seat will be "one of the closest ones we've ever seen," and the candidate's top adviser expects Kaine to be outspent by outside groups.

"We expect this race to go down to the wire," Kaine Senior Adviser Mo Elleithee told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. The campaign, however, feels "very good" about the dynamics of the race and is confident voters will be able to see a clear contrast in the candidates' records, he said. "Voters do not want a throwback to the way things were in between 2000 and 2006," Elleithee added, referring to Allen's previous term in the Senate.

If the Kaine camp is right, this race could be determined by less than 9,300 votes -- the approximate number by which Allen lost his re-election bid six years ago to Jim Webb. In that race, Allen was poised to claim a second term -- and was talked about in Republican circles as a potential White House contender -- but his campaign spiraled downward after he uttered what was perceived as an ethnic slur at a Democratic campaign tracker. He has centered his return to the trail on creating jobs, spurring the economy and cutting government spending, and he is heavily favored to defeat three conservative challengers for his party's nod for the Senate. (Virginia holds its Senate and congressional primary on June 12, though Kaine does not face a challenge within his party.)

Kaine's team figures that the GOP primary race, which will include three debates, will force Allen to the right on social issues. One of Allen's rivals, state Del. Bob Marshall, introduced controversial personhood legislation earlier this year that, though tabled, garnered national attention. And Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed a scaled-back measure requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion. Kaine has used these examples and the national debate involving access to contraception to appeal to independents and women -- two key groups in this election.

"You're going to continue to see these [GOP] candidates fight it out for who is the most socially conservative; I don't think that's a position George Allen wanted to see himself in in the campaign," said Elleithee, who also expects a vigorous debate on fiscal issues.

Allen's team counters that despite the disadvantage of having to spend time and resources fighting a primary, the candidates are still neck-and-neck. "The thing that's surprising . . . [is] Kaine hasn't taken a huge lead and taken advantage of not having a primary," one top Allen adviser told RCP. "The fact is, the past several months should have been Kaine's time to pull away. The dynamics of the race haven't changed significantly."

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found Kaine leading by three points -- within the margin of error. Independents were split: 45 percent favored Allen while 43 percent backed Kaine.

Both camps, though, say they expect to be outspent, as outside groups are already pouring money into the race, which could help determine the balance of power in the Senate. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS took to the airwaves early to attack Kaine.

To prepare for such third-party spending -- environmental groups are expected to put up money in support of Kaine -- both campaigns are loading up their own coffers.

Kaine finished the first quarter of this year with $4.4 million in cash, and has raised $7.4 million since the start of his bid a year ago. He has 19,000 donors, 14,000 of whom have given $200 or less, his campaign reports. The team is concentrating on "hustling around the state," cultivating a grass-roots organization in various communities that will boost turnout, Campaign Manager Mike Henry said on the conference call Tuesday. Henry said Kaine has visited "every geographical region you can think of" and that the campaign has made 20,000 phone calls to voters over the past three months. It also opened an office in Fairfax earlier this year and plans to move into other parts of the state as well. In addition, President Obama's campaign operation is expected to help with turnout for the race.

Allen also reported strong fundraising numbers this quarter. Over the last three months, his campaign brought in $1.4 million and will report having $2.66 million in cash. "Virginia families and small business owners know there is a better way forward and they are energized to bring positive change to Washington," said Allen in a statement announcing his totals. "We will continue to advocate a proven, pro-job-growth agenda to create jobs, unleash our plentiful energy resources and help restore the promise of the American Dream.” The campaign did not provide details about its donors.

"We feel very, very good about our fundraising abilities so far," said the Kaine campaign's Elleithee. "But let's let nobody here be mistaken: When all is said and done, at the end of the day, we expect to be outspent in this race when you factor in all the additional money that has been spent in this state. . . . We feel good about where we are; we feel like we'll have the resources we need to communicate down the home stretch, but we expect to see a lot more of their ads than ours." 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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