ITHACA, N.Y. — Still a year and a half from election day, Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) and second-time Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano have begun laying campaign infrastructure amid increased fundraising according to newly released second-quarter Federal Elections Commission data.
Reed, a fifth-term incumbent, received almost $447,000 in contributions between April and June leaving, him with $471,000 cash-on-hand after spending. Mitrano received just about $66,000 over the same period and ended the quarter with almost $117,000 cash on hand.
“The support has been humbling. We’re over the 500 (thousand dollar)-mark and just blocking and tackling,” Reed told The Ithaca Voice Monday. ”This is the gasoline that fuels the car to get the message out and we’re glad to have that support and appreciate it.”
Of his $447,000 fundraising haul, Reed received $277,000, 62%, from Political Action Committees, or PAC’s, which are conduits for donors to contribute through similar ideological, corporate and labor interests. The remaining 38% of contributions came from individuals, but it’s unclear what percentage of these came from within the congressional district. Reed also transferred about $55,000 from joint filing committees which conduit fundraising from other members, mostly Republican leadership. This transfer puts Reed just over $500,000 in raised funds for the second quarter.
The breakdown of Mitrano’s numbers skews highly toward individual donors, having only received $1,000 from PACs last quarter. The remaining roughly $65,000 came from individual donors, over 90% of which she claims are within the 23rd congressional district.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Mitrano told The Ithaca Voice about her individual donations.
She also received almost $70,000 in refunds from paid advertising that was never aired during the 2018 cycle, noted on the filing as an offset to expenditures.
Both candidates began using raised funds to lay the groundwork for what is already shaping up to be a lengthy campaign season. Mitrano spent almost $36,000 on hiring a full-time campaign manager and contracting a financial advisor to help with fundraising efforts. She also spent lesser amounts on Facebook advertising to promote public events over the last few months.
Reed and Mitrano are already campaigning for the 2020 election. Mitrano narrowly won a crowded Democratic primary election in 2018 but lost to Reed in the general election. The following week, she said she would run again in 2020.
Mitrano spent the last three months living on the western side of the district, mostly in Chautauqua County, where she says she set aside fundraising to connect with voters and make impressions early in the cycle.
“There wasn’t enough time,” Mitrano said of her 2018 run. “And that is why I began running right away. That’s why I chose not to just immediately throw myself into fundraising, but to spend quality time in other parts of the district that we believe didn’t have the chance to learn who I was personally, they only knew me as the face that Tom Reed created.”
Reed spent about $305,000 last quarter. He spent big on consulting services, fundraising efforts and in-house staff. This includes new staff after his campaign manager and communications director left for other opportunities.
The latest filing shows a pickup in Reed’s fundraising after what was a lag in his first-quarter fundraising compared to the same period in 2017. Reed is only slightly behind his second-quarter 2017 fundraising mark, having raised about $486,000 in that period.
Reed beat Mitrano, 54-46 during the 2018 cycle after she had emerged from a crowded and contentious Democratic primary earlier in the year. She redeclared her candidacy for 2020 six days after conceding the election, in a move seen as an attempt to unify the Democratic field to avoid another costly primary.
Clarification (4:10 p.m. July 16) — An earlier version of this article stated Mitrano had received $70,000 in “kickbacks” from paid advertising that was never aired during the 2018 cycle, however, it has been amended to clarify they were refunds.