Republican state Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, will report a $500,000 campaign contribution from top GOP donor Richard Uihlein, an Illinois-based shipping supplies magnate who has given millions to national conservative groups.
The unusually large donation comes as Freitas faces the unusual challenge of running a write-in campaign to save his Virginia General Assembly seat and a political career that could include a future run for higher office.
Freitas, a libertarian-leaning former Green Beret who has served in the House of Delegates since 2016, failed to qualify for the November ballot due to missed filing deadlines, but the outside financial help could help him fund a resource-intensive outreach campaign explaining how Republican voters can cast their ballots for him.
Freitas is also planning to funnel some of the money to Republicans in more competitive contests, promising a “six-figure investment” to help GOP incumbents and challengers in swing districts. The Freitas campaign said it has already made $5,000 contributions to several Republican candidates, and plans to give more as the cycle progresses.
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“I plan on doing my part to help Republicans up and down the ballot because Virginians can’t afford the socialist agenda that will be coming in January if we fail,” Freitas said in a news release.
The Freitas campaign said it would report a total of $520,000 raised in July and August. Reports for the period are due Monday for all General Assembly candidates.
If Democrats flip just a few GOP-held seats in the state Senate and House of Delegates this year, they will have full control over state government for the first time in decades.
Uihlein, founder of the shipping and packaging supply company Uline, contributed more than $37 million to conservative groups in the 2018 federal election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. He has been a major contributor to Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and PACs supporting President Donald Trump.
In 2017, Uihlein donated $160,000 to Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie’s losing campaign for governor. In 2013, he gave $150,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who also lost.
Freitas — who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate last year — is being challenged by Democrat Ann Ridgeway. Because of Freitas’ paperwork problems, Ridgeway will be the only candidate officially on the ballot in what is usually a strongly red district.