WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe has raised $4.2 million for his Virginia gubernatorial bid in the first quarter of 2009, his campaign announced today - an eye-popping figure for a first-time political candidate in a statewide race.
By comparison, current Virginia governor Tim Kaine raised $2.6 million in the first quarter of 2005 as the lone Democrat in that year's gubernatorial campaign - and more than half of that total came in the form of a $1.5 million gift from the DNC. Former governor Mark Warner raised $1.4 million in the first quarter of of his 2001 campaign.
But unlike Kaine, who was unopposed for his party's nomination, McAuliffe is spending roughly half of what he's taking in. Kaine entered April 2005 with $5 million on hand, while McAuliffe began the month with around $2.5 million in the bank out of the $5.2 million he has raised in total, going back to last year. That means he has burned through about half of his donations so far while building a campaign operation and doing battle with his Democratic rivals.
McAuliffe is competing in a three-way primary against former House delegate Brian Moran and state senator Creigh Deeds. The winner of that June vote will face Republican Bob McDonnell, who is also expected to announce a sizeable cash haul of his own thanks, in part, to frequent fundraising help from prominent national GOP figures.
All of McAuliffe's rivals have conceded that they expect the well-connected ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton to outraise everyone else in the race.
Along with keeping a relentless campaign schedule, McAuliffe has been jetting around the country collecting checks from donors in places like New York, California, Florida and Arizona. The campaign did not announce how many donations came from voters inside Virginia, saying only that they have raised money from over 3,440 contributors since last fall.
Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson dismissed McAuliffe's total, noting that Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a grassroots favorite, was outspent in his Democratic primary victory in 2006.
"Our campaign will have what we need to win," Ferguson said. "We lead in grassroots support and recent public polls so it's clear that this primary will be decided by who's been fighting for people not who's been fighting for dollars."
First quarter fundraising reports are due April 15.
UPDATE: Moran raised $800,000 in the first quarter, the campaign announced Wednesday afternoon, with 90 percent of his money - about $720,000 - coming from within the commonwealth. Like McAuliffe, Moran's campaign spent heavily. Moran has raised nearly $3 million for his campaign since January 2008, but he has $824,000 on hand.
Responding to the Moran campaign's claim that McAuliffe lacks financial support from Virginia voters, McAuliffe's campaign pointed out that they raised roughly the same amount from inside Virginia - at least $760,000 - as Moran.
However, that also means more than three-quarters of McAuliffe's money raised in the first quarter came from donors outside the commonwealth.