Democrat Terry McAuliffe raised twice as much money as Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the first three months of 2013, giving him a significant cash advantage in what is expected to be an expensive, hard fought race for Virginia governor.
Campaign finance reports released ahead of Monday's filing deadline show Cuccinelli raised $2.4 million between January and the end of March, less than half of the $5.1 million McAuliffe reported earlier.
McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and party fundraiser, also out-raised Cuccinelli in the second half of 2012, despite only campaigning for a month.
Cuccinelli got a significant boost from the Republican Governors Association, which gave him $1 million this past quarter. But the attorney general has been at a fundraising disadvantage for nearly two months because state law prohibits him from raising campaign cash while the General Assembly was in session.
During Cuccinelli's down time, McAuliffe held several high-profile fundraisers in New York, Florida and Louisiana that featured a special guest: former President Clinton. McAuliffe was Clinton's top fundraiser and the former president cut his old friend a $100,000 check.
Cuccinelli had two events with Gov. Bob McDonnell in January and another with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker last month in Virginia Beach.
McAuliffe now has $5.2 million in the bank, while Cuccinelli has about $3 million.
McAuliffe said Friday that his robust numbers show "people are looking for a governor who will focus on mainstream ideas to grow the economy and make Virginia the best for business, not on a divisive ideological agenda."
Cuccinelli did not comment on his most recent filing.
McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are both still ahead of the fundraising pace set in the 2009 governor race. McDonnell had collected $2.2 million in the first three months of his campaign. His Democratic opponent, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, raised $730,000. McDonnell went on to spend $23 million. Deeds spent about $17 million.
Polls consistently show Cuccinelli and McAuliffe in a dead heat, with many voters saying they still don't know enough about the two candidates. Neither campaign is running television ads yet, but the two sides have waged a string of testy battles in the media over their opponent's controversial business investments.
McAuliffe reported 13 six-figure donations, including $100,000 contributions from each of several labor unions: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and International Association of Fire Fighters. Republicans criticized McAuliffe in the past for his ties to big labor and publicly questioned whether he supports Virginia's right to work law. McAuliffe says he does.
Cuccinelli noted only two donations greater than $50,000. Foster Friess, a millionaire who donated heavily to former Sen. Rick Santorum's failed presidential campaign and who was criticized for disparaging remarks he made surrounding women's health, gave Cuccinelli $25,000, as did Koch Industries.