Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Mayor Opens 311 Line to Inner Harbor Development Ideas
Next story: Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was

Who's Raising Money For Whom This Election Season

The Campaign Economy

Who’s raising money from whom this election season

Primaries are a mere month away, and later this week candidates will file their latest campaign finance disclosure forms. In the meantime, here are some notes on the flow of campaign cash in Erie County in the first six months of 2010:

• Developer and philanthropist Howard Zemsky, who continues to reinvent Buffalo’s Larkin District, leads the pack of individual donors by a long shot, thanks to $30,000 in donations to Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul. Hochul faces only token opposition this fall in the person of Republican Clifton M. Bergfeld, but she certainly has higher ambitions. (Congress? County executive?) In any case, Hochul has been raising money at a modest clip this year: $132,566.54 so far in 2010. Zemsky also donated $2,500 to Mayor Byron Brown, $2,000 to the Erie County Democrats, and another $2,000 to the 43x79 PAC, which is largely supported by downtown businesses and real-estate developers. Howard’s wife, Leslie Zemsky, added to her husband’s lead by donating $1,000 to Erie County Executive Chris Collins and $250 to Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte.

By comparison, the very wealthy Victor Rice gave $5,000 each to Chris Collins and the Erie County Republican Party; so did John Davis, while David Kompson skipped party headquarters and sent all of his $10,000 to Collins.

• The Reverend Darius Pridgen has a huge fundraising lead over his opponents in this fall’s special election to fill the Ellicott District Common Council seat. Of course, that’s because none of his opponents in the race—Curtis Haynes Jr., who was appointed to the seat by the Council; firefighter Bryon McIntyre, who has run for this seat before; and Republican Sandra D. Waugaman-Beck—have filed any campaign finance disclosure forms at all. None of them seem to have committees to which donors can contribute.

Meantime, Pridgen has raised $10,525 in the last two months, most of it in relatively small donations—$100 here, $200 there. He’s spent about $6,500 so far, including reimbursing himself for a $1,000 loan he made to his campaign fund.

• After pretty well draining his war chest last year, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt has since been on a fundraising tear: He accumulated more than $150,000 in the first six months of 2010 and expects to raise and spend nearly that much again before his primary against North District Councilman Joe Golombek is finished. He’s been spending, too, more than $80,000 so far, on consultants and canvassers, mailings and polls. Hoyt’s money comes from a mix of downstate and local individuals, businesses, unions, and PACs, but his number one fundraiser remains his annual clambake at the West Side Rowing Club, good for more than $8,000.

• Hoyt’s opponent, Joe Golombek, has raised about $66,000 and spent more than $14,000. Like Darius Pridgen’s, most of Golombek’s individual donations are relatively small; the exception is a $2,000 donation from attorney Adam Perry. They are almost exclusively local donors. Golombek’s biggest money—apart from the $18,000 he transferred from his Common Council campaign account—comes from political operators (of which Perry is certainly one): $1,500 from the Buffalo Teachers Federation, whose president, Phil Rumore, despises Hoyt for his support of charter schools; $750 from Mayor Byron Brown’s committee; $440 from Judge Eugene Fahey; $1,000 from Friends of Joe Mesi, the committee the ex-boxer used to run unsuccessfully for State Senate in 2008, under the guidance of political operative Steve Pigeon; $200 from Judge John O’Donnell, another Pigeon ally; $250 from the Buffalo School Board’s Chris Jacobs; $150 from Whitney Kemp and $1,000 from Jack O’Donnell, both members of the Pigeon crowd; $700 from Deputy Corporation Counsel Pater Savage III, an advisor to Mayor Brown; and $750 from Alexandra Schmid, yet another Pigeon operative.

All told, a modest showing for Golombek so far. But if any big money is going to be spent on Golombek’s campaign—by the mayor, by Pigeon, by whomever—it will materialize in the next month, in the lead-in to the primary. In 2004, when Golombek challenged Hoyt and narrowly lost, then Erie County Executive Joel Giambra channeled money into the Golombek campaign on behalf of Pigeon. The word is Giambra will sit this one out.

Erie County Legislator Tim Kennedy has been minting money in his bid to unseat incumbent State Senator Bill Stachowski. In the first six months of 2010 he raised more than $220,000—for a total of $336,000—and spent $117,000. In the same period, Stachowski has raised about $143,000 and spent about $69,000. But Stachowski had more cash on hand as of July 15: $288,000 to Kennedy’s $216,000.

Republican Jack Quinn III raised more money that either of them in 2010, however: $296,000, with $274,000 on hand as of July 15. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will have to round up a lot more cash to keep up with Quinn in the general election.

• Both Mike Kuzma and Tom Casey are running primarily on pluck: Kuzma had $6,600 on hand as of July 15, and Casey about $15,000.

Check out AV Daily at for updates on these number soon, as well as other observations on Western New York’s campaign economy.

geoff kelly

blog comments powered by Disqus