National parties spend big on gubernatorial elections

(OpenSecrets) The Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association have raised a combined $46.6 million in the first half of 2021 ahead of 38 gubernatorial races set to take place across the 2021-2022 election cycle.

The groups have also spent a combined $28.2 million ahead of the races that could decide which party will be in charge of governor’s mansions across the country.

The RGA had 71 donors contribute $100,000 or more. Its largest donation came from Bernard Marcus, billionaire and co-founder of Home Depot, who donated $1 million to the RGA.

The second highest donations were $500,000 each from the Concord Fund, a conservative advocacy fund, and Oberndorf Enterprises, a financial services firm.

The DGA had 51 contributors donate $100,000 or more. Its 13 highest contributors donated $250,000.

The DGA and RGA had contributions of over $100,000 from the same 22 companies including AT&T, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens.

The DGA and RGA are both 527 organizations that report the bulk of their campaign expenditures to the Internal Revenue Service but also have super PACs that report their fundraising and spending to the Federal Election Commission.

The DGA and RGA’s respective super PACs have raised a combined $5 million in the first half of 2021 ahead of the 2021-2022 election cycle— that’s nearly $3.7 million more than the same period raised in the 2017-2018 cycle.

DGA Action raised more than $3.4 million in the first six months of 2021, and reported having $1.3 million of cash on hand, while the RGA’s super PAC, RGA Right Direction PAC, raised $2.1 million in the first six months of 2021 with over $2.3 million in cash on hand.

Thirty-six gubernatorial elections will be held in 2022, and two will occur in November 2021, including New Jersey’s battle between incumbent Wall Street millionaire Phil Murphy and former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom will also be on the ballot in a recall election next month.

In the recall election, Newsom has raised over $9.4 million. John Cox, the leading Republican in the recall fight, raised over 7.9 million. Anti-recall committees supporting Newsom have also raised over $34 million while pro-recall committees have raised only about $5.4 million.

This November, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will try to reclaim the governor’s mansion. Virginia doesn’t allow governors to serve consecutive terms, and McAuliffe’s first term ended in 2017. The former governor won the Democratic primary in June, and has the support of President Joe Biden.

Despite the presidential endorsement, McAuliffe is losing the fundraising race. In the first six months of the year,

McAuliffe raised $14.6 million while his GOP competitor, Virginia businessman Glen Youngkin raised $19.6 million in the same period.

Youngkin has a net worth calculated to be over $300 million, and has loaned himself about $12 million. From May 28 to June 30, McAuliffe outraised Youngkin by a little under $4 million. McAuliffe also has over $9 million in cash on hand while Youngkin only has about $2.6 million.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is facing off against GOP candidate Jack Ciattarelli, who won the Republican nomination in the June primary.

Early polling in June showed Murphy with a large lead in the race and he’s raised over $7.6 million. Ciattarelli has raised around $6.7 million.

Democrats have an advantage in voter registration of one million but Ciattarelli appears to be concentrating his efforts on the minority Republican base, a tactic that lost the Garden State twice for former President Donald Trump as well as for GOP Chairman Bob Hugin, who was soundly defeated in the 2018 race for Senate.

In 2022, three states will hold gubernatorial elections that the Cook Political Report has deemed “toss-ups:” Arizona, Kansas and Pennsylvania.

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D-Kan.) faces a tough reelection 2022 battle, serving as a Democrat in a deep-red state. The state voted for Trump by an overwhelming majority, with Trump beating President Joe Biden by nearly 15 points.

Kelly won in 2018 against the polarizing former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R-Kan.) even though Kobach outraised Kelly by over $600,000. Kelly is projected to face either former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R-Kan.) or Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in 2022. As of January, Kelly had $428,629 in campaign contributions with $654,928 in cash on hand. Colyer had $2,250 in contributions and $85 in cash on hand as of January.

Arizona’s governor’s seat will be open in 2022 since Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) is term-limited. The state has been trending Democratic after it narrowly voted for Biden in 2020 and elected two Democratic senators in 2018 and 2020.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D-Ariz.) and former television anchor Kari Lake (R-Ariz.) lead their respective parties’ polls ahead of the Republican and Democratic primaries, according to recent polling data compiled by OH Predictive Insights, a nonpartisan research firm. So far, nine candidates have entered the race. The primary is set to be Aug. 2, 2022.

Hobbs raised over $76,000 in the first six months of 2021, and her campaign is the only one to file significant contirbutions with the Arizona campaign finance system so far. The next filing date is in January.

In Pennsylvania, the governor’s seat will also be an open race because Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited. And the state will hold a competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate race in the same year.

While no Democrats have declared their gubernatorial candidacies yet, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is expected to run. On the Republican side, five candidates have declared their candidacy, most notably, former U.S. Rep Lou Barletta.

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