Campaign financial reports indicate 2022 candidates’ standing

Campaign 2022 is underway as political committees file their first financial disclosure reports of the year.  The numbers demonstrate, not surprisingly, that those already in a good position financially are getting even stronger.

Having a ton of money in a campaign account is good news for a candidate, but money does not necessarily lead to votes.  A candidate’s credibility for the office sought, the strength and ability of a committee’s organization and even the general political climate at any given time all have a great deal to do with the potential success of the candidate.  Nonetheless low bankrolls stress a candidacy while big dollar accounts are a source of comfort to political committees.

All political committees in New York State were required to file reports by January 18th for their financial transactions through January 14th.  This post was last updated at 10 am on January 19th and will be edited to note information from the remaining legislators when available.

Statewide offices

The major focus in 2022 will be on the race for governor.  Both the Democratic and Republican parties have several candidates in contention now, heading into next month’s state committee conventions to select the endorsed candidates for statewide office.

As expected, Governor Kathy Hochul’s financials lead the way by a large margin.  Here are the numbers for the announced Democratic candidates for governor:

  • Hochul – raised $21,927,407 since July 2021.  Balance in the account:  $21,337,928
  • Tom Suozzi – raised $3,363,101; Suozzi also transferred $2,101,573 from his congressional campaign account.  Balance:  $5,254,456
  • Jumaane Williams – raised $221,996.  Balance:  $189,221

Here are the numbers for the announced or anticipated Republican candidates for governor:

  • Lee Zeldin – raised $4,322,517.  Balance:  $5,622,103
  • Rob Astorino – raised $764,205.  Balance:  $1,300,693
  • Andrew Guiliani – raised $85,601.  Balance:  $188,410

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli raised $847,302 since July 2021 and has $1,760,424 in his campaign treasury.  Attorney General Leticia James raised $2,020,893 and has $3,096,521 available.

A potential Democratic primary for governor may be possible but who will be the candidates?  Bill DeBlasio is out.  Congressman Tom Suozzi could drop out and run for re-election but he has complicated that possibility by transferring over $2 million from his congressional campaign account into his gubernatorial account.  Do either Suozzi or Williams have enough support in the state Democratic committee to get them 25 percent of the vote at the state party convention?  Absent that they would need to go the petition route.

A new Siena College poll reports that Hochul is favored by 46 percent of Democrats; DeBlasio had 12 percent, Williams 11 percent, and Suozzi 6 percent.  It will be very hard to stop or slow down Hochul’s momentum.

It does not seem likely that there will be a Republican primary for governor as support for the “presumptive” nominee, Congressman Lee Zeldin, remains solid.  Astorino and Guiliani have not gotten off the ground.

And then there is the wild card:  Andrew Cuomo.  His campaign committee continues to send out emails that reek of bitterness about his fall from grace. During the past six months he raised $240,306, which includes thousands raised after he resigned, mostly in small donations; spent $2,091,851, including hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorneys; and still has $16,405,354.  It seems doubtful that he will spend his campaign treasury on a campaign that would try to focus on redemption but will actually look more like revenge.  Perhaps the son of Hamlet on the Hudson will simply stay home (wherever that is) and brood?

State legislative races

State Senator Tim Kennedy, as expected, continues to pile up large sums of money while representing a district that is not likely to be competitive anytime soon.  Other incumbent Western New York legislators have small fractions of the amount that Kennedy has.  Kennedy’s cash on hand is about equal to the total cash balances of the other 16 Western New York senators and assemblymembers combined.  Here is a summary:

  • Senator George Borrello (R) – raised $75,300.  Balance:  $107,654
  • ·        Senator Pat Gallivan (R) – raised $73,164.  Balance:  $110,233
  • Senator Tim Kennedy — raised $553,325. Balance: $1,793,808
  • Senator Robert Ortt — raised $61,343. Balance: $217,001
  • Senator Ed Rath — raised $75,635. Balance: $100,935
  • Senator Sean Ryan — raised $122,690. Balance: $222,025
  • Assemblymember Pat Burke — raised $23,170. Balance: $62,026
  • Assemblymember Bill Conrad — raised $3,000. Balance: $18,673
  • Assemblymember David DiPietro –report not yet posted
  • Assemblymember Andy Goodell (R)– raised $1,100.  Balance:  $49,770
  • Assemblymember Stephan Hawley (R)– raised $25,700.  Balance:  $133,195
  • Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D) – raised $8,075.  Balance:  $59,003
  • Assemblymember Angelo Morinello (R) – report not yet posted
  • Assemblymember Michael Norris (R)– raised $63,583.  Balance:  $183,823
  • Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) – raised $165,242.  Balance:  $260,476
  • Assemblymember Jonathan Rivera (D) – raised $12,191.  Balance:  $18,085
  • Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D) – raised $51,435.  Balance:  $102,231

The state Board of Elections’ enforcement of the law

The state Board of Elections is assigned responsibility for enforcing provisions of the Election Law.  Most registered campaign committees comply with the law on a timely basis, but a handful do not.  What does the BOE do about that?  I asked them.  Here is the email exchange:

  • Politics and Other Stuff:  I write a political blog (politicsandstuff.com) and occasionally write about campaign financial filings.  Most committees I look at file on a timely basis but some do not. What is the state BOE’s procedure for enforcement of filing requirements?  Do you only act on complaints that are submitted to the BOE?  Are there penalties?
  • BOE:  The Division of Election Law Enforcement is charged with investigating potential violations of the New York State Election Law and other laws pertaining to elections. Many of the penalties are set forth in Election Law section 14-126, available on the New York State Board of Elections website – www.elections.ny.gov , but some are also set forth in other sections of law. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact the Public Information Officer of the State Board of Elections at info@elections.ny.gov for assistance.
  • POS:  Does the state BOE routinely look to see if all political committees file their required financial disclosures, and if so, do you penalize those who are non-compliant?
  • BOE:  That is the role of the Division of Election Law Enforcement.
  • POS:  Can you please direct me to a database that indicates fines levied by the BOE for violations of the Election Law since January 1, 2019?
  • BOE:  There is no publicly available online database.  If you have questions about a specific filer you can submit a Freedom of Information request as to that filer.

So in other words, if you want to know, for example, how or if Stefan Mychajliw used the remaining $30,030 in his campaign account (since he has failed to file the required November 29th report), or for that matter, some other candidate, you must FOIL it.  I have submitted a FOIL request to the BOE concerning Mychajliw’s committee.  I am awaiting a reply.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly

The political calendar is going to be busy over the next several weeks

In Western New York and throughout the state 2021 was a busy and eventful political year. Mayoral elections in New York City and Buffalo; various county races; the resignation of Andrew Cuomo and the ascension of Kathy Hochul as governor made the year one for the record books.  The upcoming seven weeks, however, are going to quickly leave 2021 far in the rearview mirror.

The June primaries are the main reason for the escalated schedule. Here is a summary of what is coming up:

  • Filing of campaign financial reports. The first major event on the schedule will be the filing of political committee financial reports with the State Board of Elections on January 18th. All committees, whether or not they are involved in an election campaign this year, are required to file.
  • Among the interesting things to watch for: the size of the campaign treasuries of statewide candidates and state legislators as they gear up for their upcoming elections. We already know that Kathy Hochul has raised more than $10 million since August. Will Senator Tim Kennedy post another spectacular set of numbers? Will former Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw file the 2021 financial report that was due on November 29th? His last report, filed on October 22nd, indicated that he had $30,030 in his account.
  • Redrawing congressional and state legislative districts. The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission last week presented two versions of new congressional, State Senate and State Assembly districts following the 2020 federal census, one from the Democratic members of the Commission and the other from the Republicans. The dueling documents were sent to the Legislature, which rejected both plans yesterday. The Commission can submit new versions within two weeks, which will also be sent to the Legislature and will probably be rejected again. The next step? Surprise: the Legislature will draw its own lines, which most political observers have expected from the get-go.
  • The Commission versions of the plans did not make many significant changes in the existing districts. Politico reported last week, however, that the Democratic Commission members’ version of the State Senate map would create six districts that are inhabited by two current Democratic senators; one of them reportedly is a district that includes both Senator Sean Ryan and Senator Tim Kennedy. That sort of problem seems correctable.
  • Another interesting question concerns the congressional lines. Dave Wasserman from the Cook Political Report is indicating that the Commission drafts would give Republicans opportunities in as many as nine of the 26 districts. That is likely to change as Democrats, in charge of the entire process in Albany, will try to maximize the number of congressional seats that the party can pick up in November.
  • The 2022-2023 state budget. Governor Hochul will present her first budget to the Legislature on January 18th. While Hochul’s State of the State message last week offered many priorities for the state’s 2022-2023 fiscal year in broad strokes, the budget will present the details that would change those generalities into legislative and financial reality.
  • Hochul is stressing a collaborative approach with legislators as they get to work on the budget. That style change will be tested as the work begins. Both the Assembly and the Senate have large Democratic majorities but progressive far-left legislators will stake out positions on some issues that will not be in sync with Hochul’s proposals or even most Democratic legislators. Funding for a new football stadium in Erie County will likely be one such issue. How that will play out in real time will be interesting to observe.
  • Party nominating conventions. The state’s four political parties will conduct their party committee conventions in mid-February to select party nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller and United States senator. Democrats will still have multiple candidates in the mix come convention time.
  • Hochul is likely to be the Democratic Party endorsed nominee for governor despite there being two or three other candidates in the running. The remainder of the statewide slate will include current incumbents: Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin; Attorney General Leticia James; Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; and Senator Charles Schumer.
  • Republicans long ago appeared to have settled on Congressman Lee Zeldin for Governor, but wait, will Harry Wilson become a late entry into the race? Perhaps too much Trump taint on Zeldin? The remainder of the ticket is up in the air. Rob Astorino for Lt. Governor or Comptroller? Andrew Guiliani for Senator?
  • Conservatives will undoubtedly go with whomever the Republicans nominate.
  • The Working Families Party will be the wild card. The party is aggressive and has a strong left-leaning agenda. They had limited success in 2021 in elections where they placed big markers. Will they endorse any Democrats or go their own way?
  • A statewide candidate who receives more than 50 percent of their party committee weighted vote automatically gets on the primary election ballot; another candidate who receives 25 percent or more of the vote also qualifies. Any other candidate who wants to run in the primary but who does not hit one of those marks is required to pursue the cumbersome process of petitioning throughout the state. A total of 15,000 valid signatures must be collected and those signatures must be distributed among at least 13 of the state’s congressional districts.
  • Petitioning. Candidates for Congress, the State Legislature and various local offices will begin in late February or early March to circulate nominating petitions to put themselves on the ballot. Late winter weather and COVID issues make petitioning difficult. The Legislature may once again reduce the number of required signatures to deal with the added difficulty of petitioning at this time. Going forward it would seem that winter weather will always be an issue in March, so it would be helpful for the Legislature to look at some alternative scheduling for the petitioning process.

Fasten your seatbelts.  The fun is about to begin.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly