Peace leads Johnson, Hodges and Crowley about even in House money race

If money can buy candidates name recognition, then it certainly helps to have a lot of it leading into this fall's General Assembly elections.

In the money races for the two Tidewater seats in the House of Delegates, one incumbent has a sizable advantage, while the other race features an almost even match.

In the 97th District, Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover) has a comfortable financial advantage compared to his Democratic challenger Cori Johnson. Next door in the 98th District, the war chests are a little more equal, with an edge to Democrat Sheila Crowley compared to incumbent Del. Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna).

As of June 30, Peace has raised $63,374 from a starting balance of $34,294 this election year. After spending about $66,000, Peace is sitting on $31,555 as of June 30, according to Virginia Public Access Project data released in late July.

"I have been blessed to have widespread, even bipartisan support in each county," Peace said. "This advantage, along with my constant and continued presence at community events, will help to carry my common sense conservative message to voters."

Peace received donations from 186 donors, 84 of whom gave a cash donation of $100 or less this year. Johnson's received money from 59 donors, 40 of whom gave a cash donation of $100 or less, according to VPAP, the nonpartisan nonprofit that publishes publicly available financial disclosure documents on its website.

Johnson has raised $11,727 as of June 30 after starting with no balance on Jan. 1. She's spent $6,777, leaving her a little under $5,000 as of June 30, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

The campaign intends to operate on a $25,000 budget and fund-raising and spending are on target at this time, Johnson said.

"I feel completely confident," Johnson said. "Too much money is spent on campaigns that will soon be over."

The 97th District includes New Kent along with portions of King William and Hanover counties.

In the 98th District, Crowley has raised $41,721 compared to incumbent Del. Keith Hodges' $4,050 haul during the election year as of June 30. The former started with no money in January while the latter began with $27,393. Crowley has a balance of $28,601 while Hodges, a Republican, has a balance of $25,375 as of June 30, according to VPAP.

"I've been busy doing the people's work," Hodges said. Hodges also questioned the extent to which Crowley's small donations may have come from out of state donors.

Information on cash donations less than $100 isn't public, but information regarding cash and in-kind contributions of more than $100 is. Forty-four percent of Crowley's traceable funds come from out-of-state sources, according to VPAP.

Of Crowley's 273 donors, 162 made a cash contribution of $100 or less. Among Hodges' eight donors during the period, one made cash donations of $100 or less, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

"It's a people-powered campaign," said Crowley campaign manager Ari Fleisig, who criticized what she described as an over reliance on corporate donations by Hodges.

This year, Hodges has received donations from the Medical Society of Virginia ($1,000), the Virginia Retail Federation ($500) and Altria ($500) among other entities, according to VPAP.

The 98th District consists of King & Queen and a small part of King William along with Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex and Essex.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

Candidates' cash on hand

97th District

Peace: $31,555.

Johnson: $4,949.

98th District

Hodges: $25,375.

Crowley: $28,601.

Source: Virginia Public Access Project.

Top three donors for each candidate (2017)

97th District

Peace: Virginia Maritime Association ($2,500), Home Builders Association of Virginia - Richmond ($2,000), Medical Facilities of America ($2,000).

Johnson: Hanover Democratic Party ($4,000), Nancy Patterson, Glenn Allen ($2,500), Lauren Methena, Richmond ($1,485).

98th District

Hodges: Medical Society of Virginia ($1,000), Community Associations Institute ($750), Altria ($500).

Crowley: Lori Faison, Hayes ($1,043), Mathews Democratic Party ($1,000), Constance Keys, Montclair N.J. ($1,000).

Source: Virginia Public Access Project.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette