Just the facts — the new campaign financial reports for state and local candidates

State and local candidates and others who maintain campaign finance accounts were required to submit their periodic reports to the State Board of Elections on July 16th for receipts, expenses and account balances through July 12th. Here are the latest campaign account balances on file, two days past the filing deadline. I will update this data for the next day or two if additional information becomes available.

There’s no analysis or discussion in this post. I’ll leave that up to the readers for now, but will be back at a later date with some commentary.

Note: most of the candidates carry one or more minor party endorsements. For simplicity sake I am only listing the Democratic and Republican candidates at this time, except in the race for governor.

Statewide

Governor

Andrew Cuomo, Democrat. Incumbent: $31,122,985

Cynthia Nixon, Democrat: $657,439

Marc Molinaro, Republican: $887,239

Howie Hawkins, Green: $16,866

Stephanie Miner, Serve America Movement: $162,856

Lieutenant Governor

Kathy Hochul, Democrat. Incumbent: $1,244,516

Jumaane Williams, Democrat: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Attorney General – Democratic primary

Leecia Eve: $250,719

Letitia James: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Sean Patrick Maloney: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Zephyr Teachout: $314,059

Keith Wofford, Republican: $1,023,848

State Assembly

140th District

Robin Schimminger, Democrat. Incumbent: $416,397

Adam Ohar, Republican: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

141st District

Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Democrat. Incumbent: $298,991

Ross Kostecky, Republican: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

142nd District

Patrick Burke, Democrat: $29,311

Erik Bohen, Republican. Incumbent: $13,284

143rd District

Monica Wallace, Democrat. Incumbent: $55,215

Clara Wroblewski, Republican: no report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

144th District

Joseph DiPasquale, Democrat: $3,064

Michael Norris: Republican. Incumbent: $90,536

145th District

Democrat: No candidate

Angelo Morinello, Republican. Incumbent: no report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

146th District

Karen McMahon, Democrat: $35,147

Raymond Walter, Republican. Incumbent: $56,691

147th District

Luke Wochensky, Democrat: $15,843

David DiPietro, Republican. Incumbent: no report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

149th District

Sean Ryan, Democrat. Incumbent: $215,031

Joseph Totaro, Republican: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

State Senate

59th District

Democrat: No candidate

Patrick Gallivan, Republican. Incumbent: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

60th District

Carima El Behairy, Democrat: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Christopher Jacobs, Republican. Incumbent: $454,457

61st District

Joan Seamans, Democrat: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Michael Ranzenhofer, Republican. Incumbent: $868,298

62nd District

Democrat: No candidate

Robert Ortt, Republican. Incumbent: $203,118

63rd District

Timothy Kennedy, Democrat. Incumbent: $605,737

Thomas Gaglione, Republican: No report filed as of July 18, 2018 AM

Justice of the Supreme Court

Paula Feroleto, Democrat. Incumbent: $73,653

John Curran, Republican. Incumbent: $90,433

Erie County Court Judge

Suzanne Maxwell Barnes, Democrat: $133,534

Debra Givens, Republican: $35,431

Unions in 21st century politics

I began my active involvement in politics when I was in college in the late 1960’s. A lot has changed since then. Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • From what I hear from some party leaders, it is harder than it used to be to recruit members for their committees
  • In Buffalo and other places we paid attention to the local news cycle, which meant that in major campaigns in days gone by we had to have separate press releases each day for the News and the Courier
  • And last, but not least, we checked nearly everything that was going on for reaction or comment from leaders of organized labor

Things are different now.

There are certainly many actively involved members of party county committees, but the bulk of electioneering now comes in the form of those over-sized postcards without envelops to stuff or open, with attention-getting headlines filling the front and back. Almost no one hand labels mailings anymore. Everything seems to be done by mailing houses. Campaign literature drops are also rare.

We have had only one newspaper in Buffalo for the past thirty-six years, so there are no worries about whether the editors at One News Plaza will get ticked off because you gave the other guys down the street the release first. TV and radio news pretty much take their cues from the newspaper.

And the unions – they are still here, still vocal, but carrying less political weight than they used to. They have influence, but so do many environmental, social, ethnic, religious and geographic groups in the community.

Here are some statistics:

  • Nationally the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of January 2018, 10.7 percent of the work force was unionized. There were 7.2 million workers in public sector unions plus 7.6 million in the private sector; plus another 1.6 million people covered by the benefits of a union contract without being members of the union.
  • In 2017 nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 80 percent of the earnings of workers who were union members.
  • 34.4 percent of public employees are union members, compared with 6.5 percent of private sector employees. Teachers dominate the public employee union membership.
  • The state with the highest rate of union membership is New York, at 23.8 percent. In South Carolina less than three percent of workers are in unions.

In 1980 I worked in Michigan for about three months as the coordinator of the Ted Kennedy for President campaign. The United Auto Workers were strongly in control of the state party, and we spent a lot of our time dealing with union representatives, from national President Doug Fraser on down. The Michigan party that year chose its convention delegates by caucus, which was simpler to organize than a primary election. We carried the state for Teddy, one of his few wins that year. The UAW has always had strong leadership in Western New York, including folks like Jim Duncan and the late Tom Fricano.

But as a national force, the UAW’s influence has diminished along with its membership. Union contracts with the auto makers have resulted in many concessions over the years. UAW membership totaled 1.5 million in 1979, but was at 430,871 in 2017. The UAW’s total membership, however, has grown eight straight years as the union has branched out to represent non-auto or industrial employees.

The economic world as a whole has changed a lot in the past three or four decades. The economies of China and Europe and the United States are more intertwined than ever before. “Foreign” cars are built throughout the southern United States in plants with no unions. We’ll see what Donald Trump’s tariffs against foreign automakers, in the name of national security, do about that.

Scott Walker built his campaign for governor and his short-lived campaign for president around his fights to reduce union influence in Wisconsin. John Kasich also tried but was less successful in challenging unions in Ohio. In other states, including Michigan, Republican governors and Republican-controlled Legislatures have in various ways cut back on union rights and, directly or indirectly, union membership.

Now comes Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The decision of the United States Supreme Court on June 27th has dealt a major blow to the union movement, in the form of public employee unions. Janus changes many things.

Since a Supreme Court ruling in 1977 (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education), public employee unions have had the ability to charge an “agency shop” fee for people they represent even if the employees did not technically join the union. Unions were required to calculate the portion of their dues that related to political activities and to refund that amount to non-members. The theory of the 1977 case was that political activities of public sector unions were a form a free speech, and that therefore requiring nonmembers to contribute to the political activities was a violation of the non-members’ First Amendment rights. The Court in 1977 also felt that their decision provided a measure of labor peace for public employers.

The Janus case turned that approach on its head. The Court, in its 5 to 4 decision, determined that all public employee union activities, including its contract negotiations, are a violation of non-members’ First Amendment rights if the member does not agree with the activity. By the way, that great “centrist” jurist, Anthony Kennedy, voted with the conservative majority in the Janus decision, just as he did in all 5 to 4 decisions favored by Republican-appointed justices in the recently completed term of the Court.

The Janus case will have a far-reaching impact on public employee union membership, bargaining and activities. While it would be hard to pinpoint all of the significant issues that union members will weigh in deciding whether or not to stay in the union or to opt out, one of the most tangible issues will be the amount of dues that they will be willing to pay by continuing their membership, or conversely, the amount of money that they would like to save by opting out. Union memberships usually come with dues that annually total hundreds of dollars.

Estimates of how many public union employees might opt out of their unions are all over the lot, ranging from lost dues of ten percent or more of current receipts to substantially higher amounts. A recent survey of teachers, being the biggest block of employees in public unions, suggests that more than 60 percent of teachers would consider opting out.

The truth is, of course, that no one at this point in time really knows the true impact. Some unions have limited opt-in/opt-out windows that will mitigate the immediate impact of the law. The unions have known for many years that this Court decision was likely and they have been aggressively courting members to continue their membership. Many members will still value their unions. A few states, including New York, have passed legislation that makes it easier for unions to recruit and retain membership.

The bottom line, however, is that the impact will be substantial. Republicans are happy that union funds to political candidates, parties and related organizations will be reduced, knowing that that result will mostly hurt Democratic candidates. Given the political world we live in after the 2010 Citizens United case, campaign money is even more important than it used to be. Shoe leather door-to-door campaigns will, for many candidates, become even more critical than in the recent past. Maybe that is a good development.

Janus is yet another reminder, as if we needed any more reminders, that elections have consequences. It is likely to be another driving force in what is building up to be one of the most momentous mid-term elections in the history of the United States.

Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets

While you are munching on that Fourth of July hotdog or hamburger, here are a few things to think about:

  • Is Cynthia Nixon ignoring Western New York in her primary for governor? What about the rest of the state north of Westchester County? The press reports about her campaign make it seem like she is running for mayor of New York City rather than governor.
  • Will Mayor Brown’s support of Letitia James for Attorney General spill over to hurt Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul’s likely winning margin in Erie County over New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams? She carried the county by nearly 33,000 votes in the Democratic primary four years ago, which provided a major boost to her campaign.
  • Former State Senator Marc Panepinto bowed out of a campaign for re-election in the spring of 2016, citing the needs of his law practice given the serious illness of his law partner. There were rumors about other issues and some investigation by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), but it seemed like all the issues went away when he left office. Until they came roaring back last week. That’s certainly some sort of a record for a political scandal flying under the radar.
  • Donald Trump will go to Finland next week for his performance evaluation with Vladimir Putin. Trump has gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with Putin while turning the world on its collective head. Normally good performance evaluations lead to some rewards, but we may not immediately find out how Trump made out. Vladimir is probably a tough grader.
  • Anthony Kennedy’s departure from the Supreme Court raises some interesting points: (1) how much of a swing vote was he outside of a small number of issues? He was on the conservative side of every five to four decision this year; (2) Chief Justice John Roberts, while dependably conservative, has also sided with the progressive side of the Court on some key votes – think the Obamacare decision. Roberts, a man concerned with his legacy on the Court, will be the new “swing” vote; and (3) there will be an incredible amount of fire and fury during the upcoming confirmation process, but at the end of day the chances of blocking Trump’s choice (who will again be out of central casting) will be slim and none. Even if Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins might consider opposing the nominee, it is likely that one or more of Senators Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly on the Democratic side will vote with Trump on this one, just like they voted for Neil Gorsuch.
  • The House Judiciary Committee’s grilling of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the Russia investigation appeared to be an unfair fight. The likes of Congressmen Jim Jordon and Trey Gowdy were no match for the poise and intelligence of Rosenstein. The aggressiveness of the Republican House members’ attack, paired with a tweet storm on the same subject from Trump the same day, makes you wonder if some momentous action is coming soon.
  • Congressman Joe Crowley’s loss to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a Democratic primary in New York City is not an indication of any Bernie Sanders team momentum in the primaries. They lost most of the contests where they supported candidates so far this primary season, particularly in California and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez was plugged into that majority-minority district much better than a middle-aged Irish white guy who is raising his kids in Virginia. To win the House the Democrats need to employ the largest possible tent of members from all points in the political spectrum. Ocasio-Cortez will be welcomed, along with the Conor Lambs of the caucus.
  • The Erie County Legislature last week spent three hours spinning its wheels about the Erie County Water Authority, settling nothing about the future of the organization or its chairman. Nothing new there. The folks at the Authority should be mighty happy at the moment.
  • The Erie County Republicans’ endorsement of City Court Judge Debra Givens for Erie County Court seems to have either been a last minute decision or incredibly calculating. Since the Reps’ regular teammates in the Conservative Party have gone with the Democratic-endorsed candidate, Sue Maxwell Barnes, it seems that the Republicans’ decision was last minute. I wonder who is preparing Givens’ campaign materials.
  • Is Mayor Byron Brown, the State Democratic Chairman, supporting Republican-endorsed Givens or the Democrat-endorsed Barnes for County Court?
  • Contested local judicial races in the past several years have been extremely expensive, with lots of self-funding. Barnes seems to be in a much better position to win the funding battle.
  • Here’s something to chew on: are the Pegulas looking to buy the Buffalo News?
  • And if that happened, then One News Plaza could be moved to a new and more efficient location, say in Cheektowaga. The current News property might make a great location for a new convention center if someone could find $100 million or more to build it. When will the county release the potential locations for the potential new building?
  • Happy Fourth of July!Declaration of Independence