WASHINGTON - Out of staters continue to play a major role in the Virginia race for governor, where the stakes are higher than just the governor's mansion.
The latest entry, New York City's billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has donated $1.1 million dollars to the campaign of Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Bloomberg is a former Republican, now a registered Independent, who backed Mitt Romney for president in 2012. But he is supporting McAuliffe in large part because of his stance on gun control compared to his opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli has been a strong opponent of any new restrictions on gun ownership or sales in Virginia.
"The gun issue and social issues, I'm sure, are very very important to (Bloomberg)," says George Mason University public policy Professor Mark Rozell.
"Folks on the outside, who really care about the state of political parties nationwide, who see Virginia as a potential bellwether going into the mid-term elections next year, really care about the outcomes here," says Rozell.
McAuliffe has received millions of dollars in out-of-state contributions. Cuccinelli has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from out-of-state energy companies and he's also been bringing in outsiders to campaign with him.
They include tea party Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas, who campaigned earlier this month for Cuccinelli, and Kentucky's conservative Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who will campaign with Cuccinelli next week to rally the attorney general's conservative base.
Cuccinelli's campaign issued a statement attacking the Bloomberg contribution.
"Big money is pouring into Virginia from New York City to severely restrict your Second Amendment rights," says Cuccinelli.
Bloomberg, who is not running for re-election as mayor, heads the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign and has been highly critical in the past about Virginia gun laws. He has complained that a significant percentage of guns used in New York City crimes were originally purchased in Virginia.
McAuliffe has also brought in Bill and Hillary Clinton to campaign with him. The former secretary of state endorsed McAuliffe at an event in Falls Church Saturday. And the former president, who operates his foundation out of New York City, is set to begin a three-day campaign tour with McAuliffe.
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