Donors from Charlottesville zip codes gave at least $600,000 to bolster Perriello in the 2010 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports, which only itemizes donors who give more than $200. Hurt, meanwhile, received $170,000 from donors in Charlottesville zipcodes, almost all of it after winning the Republican primary in June. All told, donors from Charlottesville and Albemarle County (see chart) combined to give almost $1 million to the pair of congressional candidates.
While the absence of presidential or senatorial candidates dampened voter turnout, it appears to have aided fundraising. Perriello raised $223,000 more from Charlottesville donors than he did in 2008. Hurt raised $65,000 more than Virgil Goode did in 2008.
A staggering amount of money —$11 million—went into wooing the 450,000 voters of the Fifth District. Perriello burned through $3.6 million in his unsuccessful re-election bid, while Hurt spent $2.3 million.
The race attracted gobs of cash from independent groups, which spent a combined $5.1 million, according to Opensecrets.org—more than in all but six other congressional races nationwide. Spending by outside groups favored Perriello, who was aided by $3 million spent by groups that included the League of Conservation Voters ($605K), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($690K), and the Service Employees International Union ($590K).
Hurt, meanwhile, benefited from more than $1 million spent by the National Republican Congressional Committee and $443,000 spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Political Action Committees contributed about 20 percent of Perriello’s funding and 25 percent of Hurt’s. Unions, from the American Postal Workers to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, gave heavily to Perriello, who eschewed corporate PAC money. Corporations, such as Altria and Home Depot, gave heavily to Hurt, as did groups from the health care industry.
Perriello far outpaced Hurt when it came to small donations. He received $860,000 from donors who contributed less than $200, compared to $300,000 raised by Hurt. In that effort, Perriello got help from conduit organizations like Moveon.org and ActBlue, which bundled a combined $400,000 in contributions.
Where did all the money go? Predominately to TV and radio advertising. Perriello spent about $2.3 million on media buys, while Hurt spent $1 million. Brad Ramsey, general manager of the Charlottesville Newsplex, said that political advertising in 2010 was up 40 percent over 2008.
The rest went largely to payroll, postage, fundraisers and consultants. Obama’s presidential visit wasn’t cheap—Perriello’s campaign paid $32,000 for police overtime, $57,000 to rent the Pavilion, and $25,000 to cover the President’s travel costs.
Judging by turnout figures for the Fifth compared to other Virginia districts, the spending worked to bring out more voters. The Fifth boasted the state’s highest congressional district turnout with 53 percent, compared to 44 percent for Virginia as a whole.