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Transgender candidate vying to oust Marshall leads in small-dollar donations

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Danica Roem

Danica Roem 

Transgender journalist Danica Roem’s campaign to unseat conservative Republican Del. Bob Marshall has pulled in the second-highest number of small-dollar donations of any delegate candidate in the state.

Roem, who formerly wrote for the Gainesville and Prince William Times, logged 1,064 donations under the $100 mark between April 1 and June 1.

Among other delegate candidates statewide, she was behind only Democrat Chris Hurst in small-dollar donations logged during the second quarter. Hurst is a former Roanoke journalist who gave up his TV news career to run for office after his fiancée, Alison Parker, also a broadcast journalist, was fatally shot by a former co-worker during a live broadcast outside Roanoke in August 2015.

Hurst, 30, is among the top money-raising delegate candidates in Virginia this election cycle. He took in $84,514 during the second quarter alone, including more than 1,400 donations valued at $100 or less. Hurst is vying to defeat Republican Del. Joseph Yost in the Blacksburg-area 12th District.

Roem’s campaign took in about $38,000 in cash donations between April 1 and June 1, the second-highest amount of any candidate in Prince William County’s crowded state delegate races. But she came out on top in the region in donations of less than $100.

Elizabeth Guzman, who is vying to be the first Latina elected to the Virginia General Assembly, took in 870 small-dollar donations during the second quarter, the second-highest number among local candidates. Guzman raised a total of about $23,500 during the second quarter.

Guzman, who lives in Woodbridge, is running against Sara Townsend, of Fauquier County, in the Democratic primary for the 31st District delegate’s seat. Townsend, a middle school civics teacher, raised more than Guzman overall in the second quarter -- $35,073 – and logged 494 donations of less than $100. The winner will face longtime Del. Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican, in November.

Roem, 32, outraised her three Democratic opponents during the most recent reporting period. But Steve Jansen, a former prosecuting attorney who leads an anti-gun violence nonprofit based in Alexandria, and Mansimran Kahlon, a Gainesville entrepreneur, have both raised more money overall.

Roem far out-paced them in small donations, however, with Kahlon logging 46 donations of $100 or less and Jansen, 216, according to the most recent finance reports, which were released Tuesday and analyzed by the Virginia Public Access Project.

In an interview Tuesday and on her Facebook page, Roem attributed her donation numbers to the promotion of her candidacy through a handful of high-profile endorsements from national groups advocating for women and LGBT candidates, including the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Virginia’s List.

Her average donation amount was $34.68.

“We're doing this the right way,” she wrote,“the progressive, grassroots way.”

Still, Roem faces an uphill battle if she wins next week's primary. She has about $15,000 left in the bank compared to the $82,000 Marshall has in his campaign coffers.

Voters will head to the polls June 13 to cast votes in primaries for governor, lieutenant governor and several local delegate seats. Roem, Jansen, Kahlon and Andrew Adams are vying for the Democratic nomination to run against Marshall in the 13th, a crescent-shaped district that roughly follows the Interstate 66 corridor from west of U.S. 15, near the Fauquier County line, to the Yates Ford Road area east of Manassas.

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

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