Challenger Matt Lang outraised incumbent Ken Plum this summer in 36th District race

Del. Ken Plum and challenger Matt Lang

(Updated, 4:30 p.m.) In the race for 36th District, incumbent Ken Plum was outraised by Republican challenger Matt Lang during July and August according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Lang raised just over $12,500 dollars during the summer months while Plum raised about $7,400.

“I’ve already raised more than that in September alone,” Lang tells Reston Now. “Voters are paying attention and like what they see.”

However, due to Plum’s fundraising efforts earlier in the year, the incumbent far exceeds the challenger in regards to both overall cash raised and ending balances.

Plum has raised about $140,500 during this election cycle, while Lang is about a quarter of that at about $33,400. In terms of ending balances, Plum currently has about $73,000 in his coffers while Lang has about $13,600.

Plum’s highest fundraising months were in April and May while he was in a midst of primary challenge against Mary Barthelson, raising more than $50,000 in those two months alone. He won that race easily with about 77% of the vote.

Digging a bit deeper reveals that Lang’s funds since the beginning of the year have come from a mix of individual contributors and Republican-backed political action committees.

The PACs that have given money to Lang include the 11th Congressional District of VA Republican Committee, Virginia Wins (buoyed by a million dollar donation from Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin), and New Mission Commonwealth, which donates to Republican candidates who are veterans.

This a bit of a contrast to Plum, who mainly has gotten money from assorted companies, corporations, and labor unions as well as individual contributors and political actions committees.

The companies and corporations that have donated to Plum include several that are higher profile. This includes Westrock, America’s second-largest packaging company, waste management company Covanta Energy, Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield, and Total Wine & More (owned by Maryland Congressman and Democrat David Trone).

All of these companies have a presence in Virginia.

Additionally, Plum also received money this election cycle from Amazon, which is building a headquarters in nearby Arlington, and a cannabis company called Golden Piedmont Labs from South Boston, Virginia. In April, the General Assembly voted to legalize marijuana possession in Virginia and now are looking to speed up the ability to sell it for recreational purposes.

When asked about these contributions, Plum tells Reston Now that sometimes companies and corporations give without him knowing. But he would never let it factor into his decision-making process.

“There’s a perception in the minds of some folks that campaign contribution results in a vote,” says Plum. “It doesn’t work that way… there’s no deal-making. If it’s ever expected, that’s the day I retire because it’s immoral.”

Additionally in July and August, Plum used a chunk of his considerable campaign chest to donate to other Democrats running in Virginia, including Irene Shin, who is running for the delegate seat in the nearby 86th District, and Wendy Gooditis vying for re-election in the 10th District. He also contributed money to Schuyler VanValkenburg’s campaign in the 72nd District and Chris Hurst’s in the 12th District.

“I can’t signalulary get the job done in Richmond,” he says about why he uses his campaign funds to help other candidates. “We need others who are progressive Democrats and share my values to get things done… it’s certainly worked recently.”

Plum says he plans on sending out more checks in the coming weeks to help other candidates.

Lang’s expenses in July and August were majority for consulting services, advertising, and fundraising event-related items.

The reports that were just filed this past week covered campaign financial information from July and August. The last report for this cycle will cover September and October items and will likely be released after the November election.

Early voting started this past Friday (September 17) and will continue to election day, November 2.

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