Here in Virginia’s eleventh congressional district, local Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly is a near-lock for reelection against Republican Jeff Dove. The incumbent hasn’t had to sweat for a while; he ran unopposed in 2016 and won 56 percent in 2014, and 61 percent in 2012. Interestingly, in the 2010 GOP wave year, Connolly won by less than a percentage point against Keith Fimian.
I got a mailer from the Democratic party of Virginia recently, and that indicates just how much the party has to reach to motivate local Democrats and create the perception that Connolly needs their help.
The mailer warns “the gun lobby has already spent $32,500 to defeat him for reelection.”
That’s . . . really not that much money in this district, where the local television networks are based out of Washington, D.C., one of the more expensive television markets in the country. Connolly’s campaign spent $84,317 on just handling paychecks and other administrative costs, $36,110 to Lake Research Partners, a polling and strategy firm, and $33,695 to the Towers Club in Tyson’s Corner for use during a fundraiser.
Don’t worry, the congressman can afford it. Connolly’s raised nearly $2 million this cycle and had so much left over from previous cycles that he’s got $3 million on hand; Dove has raised about a half a million. A few years back, Connolly’s net worth was estimated to be more than $2 million.
In fact, $32,500 is a really small amount to spend against a congressman who declared, “The NRA does have blood on its hands. They kill our children. Children are dead because of you and that’s a literal truth.” (He meant a figurative truth, but perhaps the congressman learned from Joe Biden.) But the odds of knocking off Connolly are slow low, the NRA and gun-rights groups are unlikely to find this congressional race a wise investment.
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has been relatively quiet this cycle, spending just $7.3 million on ads and media to help its preferred candidates. They’ve spent about a million on ads against Democratic incumbent senator Joe Donnelly in Indiana. Gun-control groups have spent about $10 million.