By Brian Wheeler

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, October 30, 2009

With four days to go before the Nov. 3 general election, a local political action committee is making its presence known with large contributions to some of the candidates running for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and to the County Republican Party.

The latest campaign finance data was published Wednesday by the

Virginia Public Access Project

and includes fundraising through October 21.  According to VPAP, the

Monticello Business Alliance

, a political action committee that receives its funding primarily from local real estate and development interests, has invested $40,000 in Albemarle County’s political contests.

Albemarle Supervisor Candidate

Amount raised


Oct 21st*

Jack Jouett District

Dennis Rooker


– Incumbent

Rio District

David Slutzky


– Incumbent

Rodney Thomas


– Challenger

Samuel Miller District

Madison Cummings


John Lowry


Duane Snow


* Total for this candidate includes contributions of $500 or more received between October 22-28, 2009


Virginia Public Access Project


Monticello Business Alliance

was formed in 2003 and has a steering committee made up of more than 100 area business people and individuals.  It describes itself as a non-partisan organization working, “to preserve, protect, sustain and enhance an economically sound and vibrant community.”

In September, the Alliance made a contribution of $1,500 to each of the five candidates running in contested races for the Board of Supervisors.  It also contributed $10,000 to the County Republicans which the party says it is using to hire campaign consultants.  Since 2003, 82% of the PAC’s funding has gone to Republicans

according to VPAP


In October, however, the Alliance made

additional large contributions

only to three candidates–both Rio district candidates, incumbent Democrat

David L. Slutzky

and challenger Republican

Rodney S. Thomas

, and Republican

Duane Snow

who is running in the Samuel Miller District.

With the help of an additional $7,500 contribution from the Monticello Business Alliance, Slutzky has maintained his lead in local campaign donations with an overall total of $82,595.

“Considering they traditionally fund Republican candidates, it reveals a lot about my broad base of support,” said Slutzky.  “A significant amount of Thomas’ money comes from himself and the Realtors, but at the end of the day, it is really about how the voters feel, not the donors.”

Thomas received two additional contributions from the Monticello Business Alliance in October totaling $5,000.  He has made $11,592 in in-kind donations to his campaign from his printing company.

“I probably have 500 donors” said Thomas.  “When I get higher numbers of small donations, that means I am going to get more votes.  I’d rather have one-thousand $100 donors than ten $10,000 donors.”

According to Christian Schoenewald, chair of the Albemarle County Republican Party, the $10,000 donation it received from the Alliance is being used to hire campaign consultants for Thomas and Snow.

“We hire people that work with the party and we farm them out to work with the candidates,” said Schoenewald.  “The party pays them as campaign consultants, and they help the Supervisor candidates with their campaign needs.”

Snow is in the three-way race for the open Samuel Miller District seat being vacated by the retiring Sally Thomas.  Snow has raised a total of $42,208, twice as much as each of his opponents, Democrat

Madison Cummings

and Independent

John Lowry


Snow garnered his biggest financial boost from the Monticello Business Alliance, now his largest contributor, when they made an additional donation of $10,000 after the end of the early October filing period.  Large contributions of $500 or more must be reported in the two weeks before the election.

“I never had any idea what it took to run a campaign and get your message out.  It was a complete eye opener for me,” said Snow.  “I thought you could do something like this for $8,000 to $10,000.  It all adds up.  You have flyers, radio, and television.”

Asked why he had received the largest candidate contribution from the Alliance, Snow said in an interview he thought it was because of his concern for “waste and inefficiencies in government.”

“That message is resonating with people everywhere,” said Snow.

While Snow is running television ads in the last week before the election with some of the additional funding, his opponents, Cummings and Lowry, said that was not in their game plan.  Cummings has raised a total of $20,980 and had the smallest contribution total for early October with $1,800 in new donations.

“I think we have run our campaign in a very fiscally responsible fashion and our expenditures have been what we targeted to spend,” said Cummings.  “I think is has been a very successful campaign and we have done it on a lean budget.”

Lowry has raised a total of $20,578 and he brought in additional contributions of $3,194 in early October.

“I have knocked on most of the doors of all the homes that will be voting in the Samuel Miller District,” said Lowry.  “I am not convinced additional media advertising will do much more. I am happy with what I have done so far because I am running as an independent.”

In the last pre-election campaign finance reports, VPAP reports a total of $309,111 raised for Albemarle’s supervisor races through late October.  This exceeds the 2007 fundraising total of $261,138, a year which also had two hotly contested supervisor races.


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