ITHACA, N.Y.—The Democratic primary to represent New York’s 52nd State Senate district has so far shaped up to be a tight race between candidates Leslie Danks Burke and Lea Webb, and last week’s campaign finance disclosure reports only further confirm that.

Webb, who served in Binghamton’s City Council for two terms, and Ithaca-based Danks Burke, who in previous years ran for office — once for Congress and twice for state senate office in right leaning districts, are both vying for the Democratic nomination in a district that now leans to the left. For whoever wins the primary, there’s a strong potential they will be the first Democrat in recent memory to represent the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier in the State Senate. 

As of the filing, Danks Burke boasts the bigger financial haul, having raised just over $281,479 compared to Webb’s $137,428. 

The campaigns both have close to the same number of individual contributions: Danks Burke has received 1,016, and Webb has 1,003. After crunching the numbers, The Ithaca Voice found that the average for contribution to Danks Burke’s was just over $275 and Webb’s is just under $150.

And the filings show that both candidates are drawing the bulk of their contributions from within the district lines, with only about 25% of Danks Burke and about 34% of Webb’s contributions coming from outside NY52. The district that Danks Burke and Webb are running to represent includes the cities of Binghamton, Ithaca, and Cortland — three towns known for institutions of higher education — which are surrounded by large areas of rural communities. 

Both Danks Burke and Webb have a sizable number of contributions coming from Ithaca addresses, though Danks Burke blows Webb out of the water with 520 contributions versus Webb’s 216. Webb demonstrated a lot of support from her hometown, with 236 individual contributions against just 25 for Danks Burke from Binghamton. Both candidates don’t have much to boast about in the way of contributions from Cortland addresses, with 37 for Webb and 10 for Danks Burke. 

Just under $15,473 was contributed to Webb’s campaign from out of state addresses or about 11% of her total campaign funds. Danks Burke drew just under $26,307 from out of state, or a little over 9% of her funds. 

Addresses in Danks Burke’s financial disclosure reflect more contributions coming into her campaign from the region surrounding NY52 than Webb drew. This likely is due to her previous political campaigns and effort to build a name throughout the Southern Tier. From addresses from the likes of Bath, Elmira, Corning, Big Flats, Spencer, Horseheads, Dundee, and Pine City, Danks Burke got a bump of about $19,975 in funds, while Webb drew just $1,795.

The healthy dose of regional contributions reaffirm the work Danks Burke has done to establish her name in the region over the years, but the support Webb has been able to build as a relatively regional unknown in Ithaca, as well as her home turf in Binghamton, give her ample potential to still take the primary.

Danks Burke said she wants to go to Albany to fight for a region that she says Albany has left behind. “We need leaders willing to stand up, stay the course, recognize that we have serious challenges right now and who are willing to take action to fix those. That’s what I’ve been demonstrating for the last 15 years”

Webb, for her part, is proud to be running a campaign she emphasizes as “people powered.”

“The support and grassroots efforts that we have been engaging in with the campaign I find to really resonate with folks.”

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at jjordan@ithacavoice.com Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn