Bernard Tolbert’s fundraising efforts have continued to lag far behind those of Mayor Byron W. Brown, calling into question whether he will have the resources to get his message out to voters in time for the Sept. 10 primary election.
While Tolbert has begun to advertise on television, the number of times a Buffalo Democrat will see his commercials will largely be determined by how much airtime he can buy.
Tolbert raised $4,441 since July 15, compared to $50,802 raised by Brown in the same period.
Tolbert acknowledged that his fundraising “dropped off,” but said the campaign has been focused on other areas.
“If I looked at where I wanted to be, I’d have $2 million,” Tolbert said. “But that’s not realistic. We’ll be where we want to be. If it came down to it, I’d say I’d finance it myself. But, the important thing is that we want people to believe in me, we want people to support me. We’re confident we’ll be where we need to be.”
Brown’s fundraising advantage, meanwhile, allowed him to book $111,106 for television ads in the past month, while Tolbert spent just $30,822 on all campaign expenses, including $2,882 with Time Warner Cable for advertising.
Tolbert’s first ad ran during the Buffalo Bills’ preseason game on Sunday, and a new ad is slated to begin running on cable today. As the primary approaches, ads will air on broadcast networks, Tolbert said.
With four weeks to go until the primary, Tolbert has $173,944 on hand to spend, while Brown has $1.17 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Board of Elections.
Tolbert, a former FBI special agent in charge of the Buffalo office, is challenging Brown’s bid for a third term. He has four fundraisers planned in the next three weeks, he said.
Tolbert received a $250 donation from the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association’s political fund, and $1,000 from Sydelle B. Sonkin, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., as well as some smaller donations from people in and around Buffalo. His expenses included $5,000 to political consultant John Stehlin of Amherst, $3,000 with WNYMedia Services for consulting, and $1,200 with WUFO for radio ads.
Brown, meanwhile, received many small donations from city residents, as well as heftier donations from firms that do business with the city, including $5,000 from Natural Environmental, which operates at the same address as Modern Disposal, which has the waste-hauling contract with the city. He also received $3,000 donations from CRA Infrastructure and Engineering and DiDonato Associates, based in Buffalo, and from the Syracuse firm SI Technologies.
He also received $1,000 donations from M&T Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Wilmers and former Erie County Public Works Commissioner Gerard J. Sentz, who now works for the engineering firm T.Y. Lin. The law firm Hiscock and Barclay donated $1,500 to Brown, and the Finger Lakes Bone and Joint Center, in Geneva, donated $1,000.
“The broad base of local support that the Mayor has received is proof that the residents of Buffalo believe in the tremendous progress that is taking place in Buffalo,” the Brown campaign said in a statement.