Manassas Journal Messenger | Incumbent chairman’s fund dwarf opponent’s

The incumbent chairman for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors has reported nearly 20 times more funds than his challenger.

In the latest campaign filing reports for July and August, Republican Sean T. Connaughton received 95 cash contributions totaling $35,925. He already had $98,028 in the bank. After spending $21,819, Connaughton, with bank interest, reported $112,254.51 as of Aug. 31.

His opponent, Democrat Rick Coplen, received 45 contributions totaling $11,130. D.C. lawyer Loren Hershey donated $1,000 and gave Coplen the use of a skybox at an Aug. 16 Redskins football game for a fund-raiser. The value of the skybox with catering was $7,817.

Coplen entered July with $2,626, spent $7,787 through August, leaving him with $5,968.

“Thankfully money does not buy elections,” said Coplen, who has acknowledged he is the underdog and cannot match Connaughton’s fund-raising ability. “A grassroots campaign should do just fine. They should not underestimate the power of the determined people.”

Connaughton campaign manager Kyle Robertson said Coplen is hard pressed to reach the goal of $100,000 he set earlier in the campaign. To date, Coplen has raised $31,311 in cash and in-kind donations.

“A board chairman race with six thousand on hand, that’s hard to see,” Robertson said. “It just shows nobody has gotten on board his race.”

The Vienna-based Commonwealth Consultants raises money for Connaughton and was paid $8,000 in July and August in consulting fees. The firm got him a wide range of contributors, including:

— Construction firms and developers like Manassas-based Anderson Co., $1,000; home improvements contractor Jongil Kim of Manassas, $2,500; Arlington developer Preston Caruthers, $1,000; Woodbridge builder Michael Sorensen, $200; and John Strokely of Ashburn with the Cavalier Land Development Corp., $500.

— Consultants like Trinity IV of Clifton, $1,000; and U.S. Strategies Corp. of West Palm Beach, Fl., $2,500;

— Car dealers like Mallow Woodbridge, $5,000; and Route 1 Pontiac, Buick, GMC, $500.

— Republicans or party groups like the Federal Victory Fund political action committee, $5,000; Manassas Delegate Harry J. Parrish, $150; Bob Anderson of Manassas, $500; and Bill Becker of Manassas, $500.

— Electric utility Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, $200.

Coplen had contributions from anti-growth activist Robert Moler of Catharpin, $150; the Woodbridge-based Prince William Pipeline Corp., $1,000; 51st House candidate Charlie Taylor, $200; Allstate Engineering and Construction, $200; Bison Building Co., $1,000; and Hall Mechanical & Associates heating and cooling contractor, $1,000.

That mix of donations allowed Coplen to be largely independent of Democrats Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen and Neabsco Supervisor John D. Jenkins in his latest round of fund-raising.

Stoffregen gave Coplen $500, bringing his total to $3,266 for Coplen’s entire campaign. Jenkins gave Coplen $100, bringing his total to $600.

The two are Connaughton’s chief political adversaries, and Connaughton said they put Coplen up to run against him. Coplen said they have not been a major factor in his fund-raising and will not be as the campaign heads toward November.

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