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Virginia Teacher Needs You to Fight Big Money in Politics


A similar version of this diary was published in Daily Kos

VA-72 seems like classic campaign tale: a progressive teacher, reaching out to like-minded people in his community, runs for office against another local, the longtime activist head of the local Republican party.  A classic test of ideas, right?

Wrong.  On the one side, yes, Schuyler VanValkenburg, the teacher, is rallying the support of Virginians in his community and small donors nationwide.  But his opponent isn’t playing the same game from the opposite ideology:   Whitlock is trying to bury Schuyler with his own personal wealth, garnered from a successful career as a debt collection attorney, and with donations straight from corporate treasuries and business PACs.  Personal wealth, though, shouldn’t enable you to buy political power at the expense of the democratic process.  But hat’s exactly what Whitlock’s doing.

Of the $205,613 Whitlock has raised, nearly half comes from money he’s loaned himself, and less than 2% has come from 64 donations under $100.  That means he’s loaned himself more than twice the yearly starting salary of a public school teacher in the area he’s running in. 

Whitlock isn’t relying on grassroots support for the remaining 52% of his campaign cash, either.  Most of that comes from corporate treasuries, business PACs, and campaign funds from incumbent Republicans.  Look at this graph for a breakdown of his funding sources:

Schuyler VanValkenburg’s campaign, on the other hand, is a model of grassroots Democratic support.  He’s got 3,801 donors who’ve given less than $100 (that’s 30% of his donations less).  His is one of the best examples of a grassroots-funded campaigns in Virginia.  Even his larger donations (those above $100) average much smaller than his opponent’s!  Check out his support below:

The PACs and businesses that have donated to the two campaigns heighten the contrast:  where Whitlock has realtor PACs, Schuyler has groups dedicated to helping ordinary people become candidates for office, such as Only If You Run.  Whitlock has received numerous large donations from other sitting GOP delegate and state party committees, while the Democratic Party’s help constitutes less than 5% of Schuyler’s direct donations.  The same is true of large donors – the majority of Whitlock’s “Donors over 100” are $500 or over, the majority of Schuyler’s are not.  Look at this contrast in larger donation sizes and PAC donations:

Category Whitlock VanValkenburg
Individual Donors  $1000+ 13 13
Individual Donors $500-1000 10 31
Individual Donors $100-500 16 79
Individual Donors >$100 65 3802
PAC  and business donors $2500+ 12 3
PAC and business donors $1000-2500 8 4
PAC and business Donors $100-1000 6 4

Let’s stand against the Virginia GOP helping people buy their way into power.  It’s up to progressives around the country to rally around Schuyler.  If you can chip in $5 or $50, we can show Eddie Whitlock and Virginia that you can’t buy your seat in the House of Delegates.

And please repost this article on social media.  That’d help a lot, too.

Thank you!





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