TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– With Election Day upon us, the annual tradition of making sense of the money raised and spent by candidates running for office is here as well. Let’s take a look.
U.S. House of Representatives, New York 23rd Congressional District (read more about this race here)
Predictably, the largest money race happening locally is between Republican Congressman Tom Reed and Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano for the right to represent New York’s 23rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Federal Elections Commission shows that Reed’s fundraising and spending has far outpaced his competition, with $3.17 million in receipts and $2.42 million in disbursements, compared to Mitrano’s $1.39 million in receipts and $1.25 million in disbursements.
Geographically, Mitrano actually raised more money from New York donors than Reed did, totaling $476,486.49 to Reed’s $416,076.20 from in-state donors. But out-of-state donations propelled Reed’s fundraising numbers far beyond Mitrano’s, with over $50K in donations coming from residents or companies in California, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and Connecticut. There also appears to be a disparity in large versus small donors among the candidates, as shown below.
Reed’s largest individual donations came from San Francisco-based private equity firm leader Russell L. Carson, private investment firm leader Timothy J. Fazio and Anthony H. Gioia, who appears to be a former U.S. State Department official. Each gave $5,600, the largest single donations to Reed of the 286 total which were over $2,000 that he received since the start of 2019 (Gioia also gave at least two more donations of $2,800 each). Another notable name appearing on the list: Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who gave at least a pair of $2,800 donations in September 2019.
Mitrano received just 53 donations of over $2,000, with a long list of contributors tied for the largest single donation of $2,800. She built her lead among small-money donors through sheer volume –– in total, Mitrano received 1,940 separate donations under $200, while Reed accumulated just 78 donations of that size.
As for spending, the vast majority of money spent by both candidates went to the typical culprits: consulting and advertising. Reed’s largest expense was a March 2020 digital advertising buy from the Prosper Group, while Mitrano’s was a $10,000 printing purchase from Perinton Publishing in Oct. 2019.
There are two other candidates mounting campaigns besides Mitrano and Reed. local dentist Scott Noren has raised $77,145.39 and spent $60,769.45 while running a Democratic write-in campaign. Andrew Kolstee, a Libertarian candidate, has not responded to requests for interviews and ostensibly did not file any campaign finance documentation with the Federal Elections Commission.
New York State Senate 58th District (read more about this race here)
Leslie Danks Burke, a Democrat, is squaring off with incumbent Republican Tom O’Mara, aiming to unseat the longtime representative of the 58th District in this year’s election.
In terms of corporate donations, Danks Burke’s list shows just one donor: Lake House and Cottage in Rock Stream, NY, which gave her $100. Other than that, the rest of Danks Burke’s donations came from individuals or partnerships, which totaled $75,376.88. Her donor list shows a fairly expansive base, with donations coming from all over the district including a sizable portion from Tompkins County residents. Her largest donation came from Eva Davy, a Worcester, NY resident who gave $11,800 total over two separate donations. Overall, she lists 753 individual donations (though not necessarily all different donors), making the average donation to Danks Burke $100.10.
As of 11 days before the election, the last deadline for campaign finance reporting before Election Day, Danks Burke had spent $146,186.85 on the campaign. With just over $95K in starting money and about $89K in total contribution receipts, that leaves her campaign with $38,558 in the balance.
O’Mara fundraising data is a murkier subject. His individual/partnerships donations page shows just $8,500 in campaign donations received, from single donations from 24 different people. That goes along with $3,750 in corporate donations, the largest being $1,000 from Delea Leasing Corporation in East Northport, NY. He received other monetary donations from several construction companies around the state, as well as the statewide PACS for the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association and the New York Pest Management Association.
His largest monetary donation overall came from the RSA Frank Ricci Neighborhood Preservation association, amounting to $5,000 of the $17,973.06 total raised in the “other monetary donations” category.
But O’Mara’s total expenditures far outweigh what he has raised during this election cycle. His starting balance at the beginning of the campaign (perhaps left over from last election cycle) was nearly $250,000, and after accounting for donations and expenses, he is left with $105,595.74 as his campaign’s closing balance. During the campaign, he has spent $173,345.75, 98 percent of which was used in two transactions in the waning days of October, one for mailers and one for TV ads, which amounted to $170,000.
New York State Assembly 125th District (read more about this race here)
The race to replace State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton generated a hotly contested Democratic primary, from which Tompkins County Legislator Anna Kelles, of Ithaca, emerged victorious from a crowded field of candidates. She is now facing Republican and Libertarian candidate Matthew McIntyre, who is from Homer, N.Y.
The race has been fairly quiet since the June primary, but Kelles was still able to raise $3,636.70, added to her starting balance of $7,308.08 after the primary ended. She spent $4,570.68, according to her 32-day Pre-General Report page, mostly on consultation and advertising materials, with an additional $904.19 being spent on marketing materials in the recent lead-up to the election, according to her most recent campaign filing. Closing out the election season, her campaign has $6,737.41 on hand.
McIntyre’s campaign finance documents do not appear up-to-date, at least according to the New York State Board of Elections. The last report he filed was in July 2020, which showed $120.00 in funds raised and no spending.