Top Dem Donors in Virginia Not Falling in Line for McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe / AP

Terry McAuliffe / AP


Many of Virginia’s biggest donors to the Democratic Party have remained on the sidelines for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe this go around.

Although the famed fundraiser is raising large sums of cash, he is relying heavily on large out-of-state contributions for the majority of his campaign’s funding.

An analysis of the top donors to the most recent Democratic candidates for Virginia’s governorship shows that most of the Virginia-based individuals who contributed large amounts in the past have not given a penny to McAuliffe thus far.

Eight of the top 15 Virginia donors to Creigh Deeds in 2009 have not contributed to McAuliffe; nine of the top 15 donors to now Sen. Tim Kaine in 2005 have not contributed to McAuliffe either.

These donors have consistently supported Virginia’s Democratic candidates, having all contributed far more to Democrats than to Republican or Independent candidates.

Austin Ligon, a former CEO of CarMax, contributed $115,000 to Deeds in 2009 and $120,000 to Kaine in 2005.

Ligon has contributed $561,749 to Democrat candidates and groups in Virginia since 1997.

Additionally, Ligon has contributed $145,412 to candidates and groups at the federal level, including $47,400 to the Democratic National Committee.

Ligon has not yet contributed to McAuliffe.

Deeds’ top donor in 2009, Sarah McWilliams, contributed $260,000 to his campaign.

Over the years, McWilliams has contributed $427,500 to political candidates in Virginia and all of it has gone to Democrats. McWilliams, also, has not yet contributed to McAuliffe.

Ted Leonsis, the well-known owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, is another major donor for Virginia Democrats that has not given McAuliffe any financial backing.

Leonsis contributed $50,000 to Deeds in 2009, and also contributed $125,000 to former Democratic Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s 2001 campaign.

Leonsis contributed $5,000 to McAuliffe during his brief run for governor in 2009 before he was defeated in the primary. This time around, however, Leonsis still has yet to contribute to McAuliffe.

It is unclear why some of Virginia’s biggest Democratic donors are keeping their distance from their party’s candidate.

McAuliffe has focused much of his fundraising on out-of-state donors, sending high-profile pals such as former President Bill Clinton to events all around the country.