Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

Michael Bills is going long on Virginia politics.

“There are voices that deserve to be heard,” said Bills, the Charlottesville hedge fund guy. He, his political action committee (PAC) and his wife, lawyer Sonjia Smith, collectively have given $6.7 million this campaign season to Democratic candidates who share their left-of-center, bright-green agenda, which includes shackling Dominion Energy.

Though he has picked more losers than winners, Bills says his political investments — for governor, he is big on Jennifer Carroll Foy, the VMI-educated public defender and former legislator who wants to make it easier for unions to organize workers — are about participating in the policy debate.

“My goal is to be in races in which the ideas get contested,” said Bills.

Though that might sound like something out of a civics textbook, Bills, his Clean Virginia political apparatus and Smith are teaching a lesson to more moderate Democrats who still have a big say in the party: Money equals pressure, which hastens change. Clean Virginia and Smith have given Carroll Foy $1.1 million, a third of her total fundraising.

Bills, Clean Virginia and Smith — currently third, fifth and eighth, respectively, in this year’s top 10 donors — want to make that point in the June 8 primary in which their Dominion-friendly bête noire, Terry McAuliffe, is favored for the gubernatorial nomination, and the Nov. 2 general election that will be a mini-referendum on the nascent Biden presidency.