July campaign financials; Kennedy’s eye-popping numbers; spending priorities in the 23rd district

The August 23rd congressional and state Senate primaries are just five weeks away.  The general election has 11 weeks to go.  We now have some data points to assess where the candidates are positioned.

The Hochul/Delgado versus Zeldin/Esposito race is set.  The Working Families Party has nominated Hochul and Delgado.  The Conservative line will be occupied by Zeldin and Esposito.  There will also be candidates for governor and lieutenant governor on the ballot who qualified via independent petitions.  The independent candidates will not be elected in November, but they are competing for a consolation prize:  if they can reach the required total vote threshold they will qualify as an established party in the state for the next two years.  The gubernatorial ticket must receive either 130,000 votes or at least two percent of the total vote for governor, whichever is greater.

Lee Zeldin attempted to add another line to the ballot for himself, the Independence Party.  (The Legislature this year prohibited using Independence or Independent in the name of a new party since many voters in the past have, while assuming they were signing up as non-affiliated with a party, actually were enrolling as members of the now defunct Independence Party.)  Zeldin needed 45,000 valid signatures to qualify another party and filed 52,000, but the state Board of Elections disqualified 13,000.  A Libertarian Party representative alleged that over 11,000 of the submitted signatures were photocopies of other pages.  Imagine that:  possible voter fraud by a Republican.

All candidates and political organizations in the state, whether or not they are involved in an election in 2022, were required to file reports by July 15 reflecting receipts and expenditures through July 11.  Here are the financials for the statewide candidates:

  • Kathy Hochul.  Raised an additional $2,365,659 since June 11.  Balance of funds still available:  $11,713,944
  • Lee Zeldin.  Raised $892,107 since June 11.  Balance $1,572,133.
  • Attorney General Letitia James, Democrat.  Raised $1,176,540 since January.  Balance $2,666,911
  • Republican candidate for Attorney General, Michael Henry.  Raised $117,199 since January.  Balance $63,756
  • State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Democrat.  Raised $623,086 since January.  Balance $1,784,578
  • Republican candidate for Comptroller, Paul Rodriguez.  Raised $3,027 since January.  Balance $3,024

And this historic note:  former Governor Andrew Cuomo raised $52,373 between January and July.  His balance, which was over $18 million when he resigned in August, is down to $10.6 million.  He spent $5.8 million since January, including hundreds of thousands of dollars for lawyers and media consultants.

There are Democratic and Republican primaries for state Senator in the 61st District.  Joel Giambra remains on the ballot but has dropped out of the Republican primary.  Here are the campaign financials:

  • Senator Sean Ryan, Democrat.  Raised $222,422. Balance $411,442
  • Ben Carlisle, Democrat.  Raised $4,442. Balance $97
  • Senator Ed Rath, Republican.  Raised $59,013.  Balance $145,176
  • Joel Giambra.  Raised $5,000 (personal loan).  Balance $488,452

In the race for Erie County Clerk, here are the numbers:

  • Republican Incumbent Michael Kearns.  Raised $37,544.  Balance $22,497
  • Democrat Melissa Hartman.  Raised $49,302.  Balance $27,378

In the Republican primary for Congress in the 23rd District here are the financials:

  • Nick Langworthy.  Raised $307,055.  Balance $304,239
  • Carl Paladino.  Raised $50 + $1.5 million personal loan.  Balance $1,494,644
  • Neither Langworthy nor Paladino’s accounts indicate what they have recently spent on TV ads.

In the Democratic primary for Congress in the 26th District here are the numbers:

  • Congressman Brian Higgins.  Raised $1,224,567 since January.  Balance $1,585,188
  • Eddie Egriu.  Raised $100,302, including $91,000 personal loan, since January.  Balance $4,747

Here are financials for candidates who are not involved in primaries (first reporting since January):

  • Senator Tim Kennedy, 63rd District.  Raised $614,119.  Balance $2,097,695
  • Senator Pat Gallivan, 60th District, Republican.  Raised $72,230.  Balance $174,666
  • Gallivan has no Democratic opponent
  • Senator Robert Ortt, 62nd District, Republican.  Raised $226,081.  Balance $252,452
  • Ortt has no Democratic opponent
  • Assemblyman Bill Conrad, 140th District, Democrat.  Raised $1,934.  Balance $30,566
  • Scott Marciszewski, 140th District, Republican.  Raised $0.  Balance $0
  • Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, 141st District, Democrat.  No report filed as of July 18, 2022
  • Peoples-Stokes has no Republican opponent
  • Assemblyman Pat Burke, 142nd District, Democrat.  Raised $6,515.  Balance $54,049
  • Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, 143rd District, Democrat.  Raised $31,759.  Balance $120,994
  • Frank Smierciak, Republican, 143rd, District.  Raised $3,480.  Balance $4,196
  • Assemblyman Michael Norris, 144th District, Republican.  Raised $5,478.  Balance $156,107
  • Norris has no Democratic opponent
  • Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, 145th District, Republican.  Raised $78,636.  Balance $99,878
  • Douglas Mooradian, 145th District, Democrat.  No report filed as of July 18, 2022
  • Assemblywoman Karen McMahon, 146th District, Democrat.  Raised $24,884.  Balance $76,583
  • Assemblyman David DiPietro, 147th District, Republican.  No report filed as of July 18, 2022
  • DiPietro has no Democratic opponent.
  • Assemblyman Jon Rivera, 149th District, Democrat.  Raised $17,125.  Balance $22,108
  • Ralph Hernandez 149th District, Republican.  No report filed as of July 18, 2022

Campaigns and political TV commercials in July and August

All campaigns make judgments about the best use of their financial resources, no matter whether their treasuries are large or small.  TV commercials almost always gobble up the largest chunks of the money in congressional races.

Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy have both been running introductory commercials to present their credentials.  The ads are cookie-cutter type spots that you would expect for someone who is trying to introduce themselves to an electorate that does not know a whole lot about them, or perhaps to re-cast what the public does know.

The Buffalo TV market dominates the 23rd District with regular viewers in Erie County and the counties south of the county.  There is also a much smaller TV market in the Elmira area on the eastern end of the district.

The campaigns have an incredibly small focus in this primary election.  There are less than 200,000 registered Republicans in the district.  A safe guess about turnout will be in the ten to fifteen percent range, meaning 20,000 to 30,000 votes.  The candidates are looking to win over something like 10,000 to 15,000 votes for a successful effort.

When you are buying TV commercials for a campaign you can target to your best potential audience to a certain degree – think Fox News or Newsmax.  But if you spend on broadcast stations in Buffalo you are likely to reach more non-Republican, non-23rd district voters than eligible 23rd district Republicans.  Then, of course, there are generally fewer people watching TV in July and August.

All this is to really say that most of the dollars spent on TV ads in the 23rd district will be wasted.

To some extent the same might apply to radio ads.  The rates are much lower, but then there are more radio stations than TV stations between southern Erie County and Elmira.

The best targeting opportunities are likely to relate to campaign mailings, mostly those oversized postcards that are usually filled with large pictures, attention-grabbing headlines but hardly enough information about the candidate to fill a tiny corner of the piece.

The cost for the campaign per the number of votes received is going to be extremely high in this election.  One of the candidates will win the Republican nomination but there will also be a whole lot of other winners:  TV and radio stations, the print and mail shops, and the United States Postal Service.  And oh, yeah, the always present consultants.

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