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Money race heats up in gubernatorial campaigns

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The two presumed rivals in this fall’s gubernatorial election already are competing in the race for campaign cash.

The campaigns of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe trumpeted their recent fundraising totals in press releases issued within minutes of one another Tuesday afternoon.

Cuccinelli’s camp said it had raised $1.07 million in the last six months of 2012 and had $1.18 million in cash on hand. The money came from 4,483 contributors, 69 percent of whom gave less than $100 each.

McAuliffe’s campaign said it had raised $1.15 million from 1,400 contributors in less than a month. Mirroring Cuccinelli’s fundraising effort, 70 percent of the money came from contributions of under $100. McAuliffe ended 2012 with just under $1 million on hand.

The similar fundraising numbers appear to reflect an early tight race between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed the two candidates in a virtual deadheat, with the McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by a statistically insignificant margin, 40 percent to 39 percent. A big share of the electorate, however, is undecided.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the one-time Republican heir apparent to Gov. Bob McDonnell, is exploring an independent run for governor after pulling out the race for the GOP nomination. The Republican nominee will be chosen in a convention rather than a primary, a process that Bolling believed heavily favored Cuccinelli.

The attorney general now is unopposed for his party’s nomination, as is McAuliffe.

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