WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Bob McDonnell has more money in his campaign war chest than any of his potential Democratic rivals in the closely-watched Virginia governor's race, his campaign announced Monday.
McDonnell collected $2.2 million in the first three months of the year, despite being prevented by Virginia law from raising money during the state's legislative session, which for McDonnell ran from Jan. 15 until he resigned from the Attorney General's office on Feb. 20.
That fundraising total includes a $1 million gift from the Republican Governors Association, which was given to his campaign in March.
Crucially, McDonnell now has $3.5 million on hand. That's a million dollars more than Terry McAuliffe, the prolific Democratic fundraiser who entered the race last year touting himself as the candidate with the best chance to raise the cash to beat McDonnell in November.
The numbers highlight a potentially serious problem for Virginia Democrats, who are locked in a contentious, full-time primary battle that forces them to spend their cash on advertisements, field organizations and campaign staff. McDonnell, meanwhile, has been free to save his money and plot strategy.
Several prominent national Republicans - including John McCain, Bobby Jindal and Rudy Giuliani - came to Virginia over the last three months to help McDonnell collect checks.
"We have far more cash on hand than any of our potential opponents," said McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox. "While they must raise and spend, we are building the resources we need to win in November."
McAuliffe reported raising $4.2 million during the first quarter of 2009, the highest total of any Democrat, but he spent much of it and began April with $2.5 million on hand.
As for the other two Democrats in the Virginia race, state senator Creigh Deeds began April with $1.2 million in the bank, while former House delegate Brian Moran reported having $824,000.