EMILY's List Gives Virginia Dems Record State-Level Donation

The Virginia State Capitol in downtown Richmond, Virginia / Getty Images
October 10, 2019

EMILY's List, a PAC that aims to elect pro-choice female candidates, has provided its largest ever state-level contribution to Democrats in Virginia ahead of the November elections.

The group announced it would push $1.5 million into Virginia to back female Democratic candidates running in state Senate and House elections. The donation follows a $600,000 contribution the committee previously made alongside Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC. The two contributions from EMILY's List combine to set a record for its state-level efforts, according to the Washington Post.

Virginia Republicans were not surprised by the pro-choice organization's push into the state. Statehouse Democrats led by Delegate Kathy Tran attempted to overturn late-term abortion regulations and other pro-life laws in January. The bill sparked public outcry after Democratic governor Ralph Northam, a career physician, defended the practice of allowing newborns who survive abortion to die on the table. John Findlay, the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, said the donation demonstrates the radical nature of the Democratic agenda.

"Given the VA Dems are committed to publicly funded abortion up until the moment of birth, as shown by the bill filed by Delegate Tran, the fact that pro-abortion groups are heavily investing in Virginia this year is not surprising," Findlay told the Washington Free Beacon.

Neither EMILY's List nor the state Democratic party returned requests for comment.

Pro-life groups are also active in the state, including Susan B. Anthony List, which operates out of Virginia. SBA supports pro-life female candidates and committed to spending six-figures in Virginia after Del. Tran introduced her bill. A spokeswoman said the group is active in the state, but declined comment.

Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said pro-choice groups and liberal donors have shifted their attention to state races even in the midst of a presidential primary. He pointed to pro-abortion laws that have passed in heavily Democratic states, such as New York, Vermont, and Illinois, as well as pro-life reforms passed in Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri. Northam's controversial remarks and the ensuing backlash have "forced Democrats to spend a lot more money than they have had to in any race prior."

"I’m not shocked to see EMILY’s List spend a record amount of money here in Virginia," Schilling said. "When Democrats lose key swing states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, they will have politicians like Gov. Ralph. Northam to thank."

EMILY's List is one of the most influential liberal political PACs in the nation. The group PAC reported nearly $50 million in receipts during the 2016 election cycle and spent $45 million during that time, Federal Election Commission filings show. It was even more heavily involved in the midterms, raising $70 million while spending $72 million. For the 2020 election cycle, the group has raised $22 million and spent slightly more than $18 million through August.

Outside liberal donors and organizations have flooded the commonwealth with cash in hopes of regaining control of its legislature where Republicans hold slim majorities. Liberal billionaire George Soros quietly sent $350,000 to Planned Parenthood Virginia's committee last month, the largest outside contribution it has ever received. The money was not sent directly from Soros, but was transferred from the Democracy PAC, a political action committee established by the financier's spokesperson in 2019. Soros deposited $5.1 million into the PAC and plans to direct the money to local and national liberal groups leading up to the 2020 elections.

Other outside groups, such as Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the nation's largest gun control groups, have dropped six-figure donations into advertising campaigns. The state's Democratic party has also recently received at least $150,000 from dark money groups.

Findlay said the flood of outside money has helped fuel Democratic candidates. He questioned whether it would appeal to Virginia voters who have different priorities than Democrats in Washington, D.C., New York, or California.

"The [EMILY's List] investment is just the latest example of Democrats putting the interests of liberal groups over the concerns of Virginia voters," he said.

The Nov. 5 general election is widely considered a toss-up as it enters its final month. Republicans hold a one-seat majority in Virginia's 40-member Senate and a three-seat advantage in the 100-member House of Delegates.