ALBANY – For a campaign they publicly insist they are not worried about losing, State Senate Republicans and yet another new special interest group are pumping sizable contributions at the last minute into the re-election effort of Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti.
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported Friday allocating $140,000 toward Grisanti’s re-election in the past month, plus another $213,000 in direct money transfers in the past two weeks. That is on top of $180,000 they sent to the senator’s campaign in September.
Beyond the Republican spending, a group representing the state’s real estate agents said Friday it is spending $275,000 to help three Republicans, including Grisanti, win their Senate races.
With recent polls showing Grisanti ahead in the race against Democrat Michael Amodeo and a couple of minor party candidates, the last-minute money shows the deeper-pocket Senate Republicans are, at least, not taking any chances in the Grisanti race in a district with a more than 2-to-1 Democratic Party voter enrollment edge.
Senate Republicans dismissed any worries. “Sen. Grisanti is going to be re-elected to the State Senate,’’ said Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate GOP.
But Democrats were taking the GOP spending as a sign of life for Amodeo.
“I think a lot hangs in the balance for them here,’’ Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner said of the GOP money. “And I think they are concerned about this campaign. I don’t see any other explanations for it. There’s a lot of other campaigns to be spending money on than Mark Grisanti.’’
But Amodeo has his own funding problems. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee did not give Amodeo one penny in the new filings made public Friday. Democrats have privately expressed doubts about Amodeo’s chances and needed to direct money to closer races.
Amodeo reported raising $44,000 the past few weeks, spending $37,000 and a bank account balance of just $15,000 entering the final phase of the campaign. His major donations included $10,300 apiece from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee Union in Washington and the New York State United Teachers Union.
Grisanti’s latest campaign report was not filed with the state Elections Board as of Friday evening.
The Washington-based National Association of Realtors transferred $275,000 to the group’s New York trade association on Thursday. On Friday, Duncan MacKenzie, chief executive officer of the New York State Association of Realtors, said the campaign will split the money up on campaign efforts to help Grisanti and on behalf of two other GOP Senate campaigns in Rochester and Long Island. The group, by law, cannot coordinate with Grisanti on how the money is spent.
The realtors executive said the group is supporting lawmakers who oppose some efforts to weaken the state’s new property tax cap law and have expressed interest in helping localities cut state mandates that help to boost property taxes.
“We’re at a critical time in the housing recovery … We’re just trying to support folks who we believe are supportive of real estate issues,’’ MacKenzie said.
Friday was also a day illustrating that politicians can part with campaign money to help others in trouble. Senate Republican incumbents running in safe races in the past two weeks transferred $540,000 to their central campaign account in Albany to help GOP candidates in close contests. Among the big donors from Senate Republicans – giving $50,000 apiece – were Sen. Catharine Young, an Olean Republican, who has no opponent, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic incumbents, and some other Democrats, transferred $459,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee; Sen. Tim Kennedy, a South Buffalo Democrat who narrowly won his September primary race, donated $25,000.
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