Big Money Republicans Not Giving To Ken Cuccinelli

Potential trouble for Virginia's Republican nominee for Governor.


Virginia’s Republican nominee for Governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is having some trouble raising money from traditional Republican voters and donors because of his views on social issues:

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has raised less than half as much cash as Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe, with a prominent list of Republican donors sitting out this year’s most competitive U.S. political contest — and in some cases switching sides.

The financial disadvantage four months before the election illustrates the difficulties confronting an attorney general who is campaigning on an economic growth plan yet is best known for his opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

“Mr. Cuccinelli’s very hard stance on some of the social issues is a concern for me,” said Virginia Beach developer Bruce L. Thompson, chief executive officer of Gold Key/PHR Hotels and Resorts, a financial backer of current Republican Governor Bob McDonnell who in May gave McAuliffe $25,000.

“I believe personally in a woman’s right to choose, but I also think from an economic development standpoint, we’re trying to attract businesses from other areas of the country, and we’re telling women that we’re going to regulate the way that they run their life? I just don’t think we can be exclusionary when it comes to women” and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, Thompson said.

Cuccinelli, 44, had $2.7 million in cash as of the end of June, compared with $6 million for McAuliffe, 56, the former national Democratic Party chairman and fundraiser. While McAuliffe had been expected to out-raise Cuccinelli, the Republican is lagging behind where McDonnell was at this point in his 2009 race, when he had $4.9 million in cash on hand.

More interestingly, many of the big money donors who enthusiastically backed the Republican ticket in 2009 seem to be sitting on the sidelines this time:

Of McDonnell’s top 25 individual donors, only 10 so far have contributed to Cuccinelli — leaving three-fifths either on the sidelines or actively working against Cuccinelli, financial disclosures posted by the Virginia Public Access Project show.

Donors who gave to McDonnell and haven’t provided funds to Cuccinelli include R. Ted Weschler, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) investment manager, who switched allegiances and contributed $25,000 to McAuliffe in December 2012.

Other McDonnell backers who have yet to write a check in the race include billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones II, founder and president of the $13 billion Greenwich, Connecticut hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp.; Paul E. Singer, founder of New York-based Elliott Management, overseeing assets of $21.6 billion; and Terrence D. Daniels, the chairman of Charlottesville, Virginia-based Quad-C Management Inc.

Cuccinelli is “perceived as more of a culture warrior than McDonnell was by the time he ran for governor, and much of the large business community that funds campaigns would probably prefer to see social issues go away,” said Bob Holsworth, a Richmond, Virginia-based political analyst who added that the business community was particularly troubled when the attorney general tried to derail a $6 billion transportation package backed by the governor.

Money doesn’t always decide elections, of course, and Cuccinelli’s campaign was quick to point out that their candidate has won in the past despite the fact that his opponent raised more money than he did. At the same time, though, if this fundraising gap continues into the fall it could have an important impact on a race that is likely to remain tremendously close for some time to come, especially if it means that it will allow the Democrats to invest more heavily in negative ads that define the Republican ticket as too far to the right and out of step with Virginia voters. Money is also needed, of course, for the basic aspects of campaigning that will be necessary in voter rich areas like Northern Virginia.

More broadly, though, this could bode ill for Cuccinelli in November if it indicates a split among Virginia Republicans regarding his candidacy. Leaving aside what his Governorship has turned into for a moment, Bob McDonnell was able to win in 2009 because he attracted both the social conservative wing and the business/suburban wing of the Virginia GOP. If the lack of donations is an indication that the business wing is questioning Cuccinelli’s candidacy then he’ll head into November with a distinct disadvantage.

FILED UNDER: 2013 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Caj says:

    Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t need money. It wants someone to give him a brain. He’s just another one on the crazy train for Republicans! These folks get more stupid by the minute.

  2. legion says:

    Has the GOP finally found a candidate too fringe-nutty to support? Can it be?

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I thinking that when you stand by comments that gay people are soulless and self-destructive, among other things, that tends to take businesspeople aback. It is surprising at all that the wallets are closing and/or switching sides entirely. Additionally, while I don’t like McAullife, he is a former CEO, and these money guys belong to a crowd that he’s comfortable with and knows how to work.

  4. Tony W says:

    Hmm, so there is a limit – who knew?

  5. Anonne says:

    @legion: I think you can only look at this in the context of a purple state, which Virginia is rapidly becoming. That wouldn’t be true in, say, South Carolina.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    Peak wingnut.

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: previous comment should read “It is not surprising that….”

    My kingdom for an editor.

  8. Big Money Republicans Not Giving To Ken Cuccinelli

    “I didn’t get to be rich by throwing away money.”

  9. legion says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Tell that to Sheldon Adelson…

  10. legion says:

    @Anonne: True, true. Insanity can only be defined with respect to a given society.

  11. MikeSJ says:

    Cuccinelli aka “Cooch” is pushing a sodomy law that would make oral high-jinx between adults a felony.

    Maybe the good businessmen realize this is net that could scoop up more than just the gay crowd…

  12. Barry says:

    @Stormy Dragon: ““I didn’t get to be rich by throwing away money.” ”

    The ROI on owning a share of a governor can be very high; I wouldn’t be surprised if a 10% chance of winning was a worthwhile investment.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    All you need to know about this small government but definitely government in your bedroom guy was discussed on “The View”

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I rather suspect that a fair amount of the reluctance to back Cuccinelli has to do with, who bets on a hobbled horse? Right now the McDonnell’s Star Scientific problem has spread far enough to smear the cuckoo bird too. And while, for Cuccinelli, it seems to be all legal, a few month’s back people were saying the same about McDonnell.

    Smoke and fire and all that.

  15. Pinky says:

    Are you guys generally ok with big-money donors influencing elections? I haven’t seen much support for that on this site before.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Well, yea. Outside of the holier than thou pew, this guy is a major embarrassment.

  17. legion says:

    @Pinky: We’re not supporting it, Pinky – we’re just surprised not to see it.

  18. Kylopod says:

    when you stand by comments that gay people are soulless and self-destructive, among other things, that tends to take businesspeople aback.

    That’s the funny thing, isn’t it? When people try to divide the GOP into a business wing and social-conservative wing, it almost gives the impression that the “business” politicians will be liberal (or at least moderate) on such issues as gay rights and abortion, while the social conservatives will be economic populists. In reality, most Republican politicians, regardless of what “wing” they represent, adopt all the orthodox positions on abortion, gays, and economics. Most of the so-called “business Republicans” in office are pro-life and anti-SSM, and most of the cultural warriors still scream bloody murder at the notion of raising taxes on rich folk even by a drop. That’s why the difference usually ends up amounting to whether they go full-on into the crazy or not. If they say gay people have no souls or that rape precludes conception, that makes them social conservatives, but if they’re “merely” against abortion rights and SSM, that makes them business-friendly. It really does work like that.

  19. Argon says:

    I think the difference is that ‘business’ conservatives put profits first and are willing to negotiate on social issues if it affects the bottom line.

  20. Rob in CT says:


    Peak wingnut.

    That would be nice. But I’ve given up hoping to see it. There is no wingularity.

  21. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Kylopod: However, in this particular situation, I think that the evidence cited shows that these folks have shown by their actions (either closing their wallets or switching to funding McAullife) that they aren’t just run of the mill pro-business Republicans.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I was talking about the politicians, not the donors, who have to decide which candidates are most likely to further their interests while in office. My point is that, when it comes to Republican pols, you can’t really draw a clear dividing line between the party’s supposed two “wings.” I’m sure that many pols who adopt anti-abortion and anti-SSM positions are merely paying lip service to these causes and do not genuinely care about advancing them (and may even be privately opposed to them). That’s what a lot of these “business conservative” donors are wagering when they support such candidates. But it isn’t so easy to tell the difference, and electing any Republican politician will generally lead to a lot of the same policy consequences, regardless of which “wing” you think the particular pol represents.

    Take Paul Ryan, for example. Business Republican or social conservative? You’d think this Ayn Rand devotee who gave us the 2011 and 2012 budget bills definitely belongs to the GOP’s business wing. But he is also an ardent anti-abortionist who doesn’t even make an exception for rape. In fact, his policy views on this issue are identical to Todd Akin’s. But because he didn’t say anything quite as stupid and offensive as the remark that caused Akin to lose his Senate bid, Ryan retains his status as a respectable “business” Republican.

    That’s how I view the business class’s reaction to Cuccinelli’s remarks, as well as their love for, say, Chris Christie, the pro-life New Jersey governor who vetoed an SSM bill. It’s almost as if they think it’s okay to be pro-life and anti-gay–just not too much, or maybe just not too obvious.