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WASHINGTON – A financially competitive congressional race is shaping up in the Southern Tier’s 23rd Congressional District, as Democrat Martha Robertson reported raising $330,366 between January and March while the incumbent, Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning, raised $387,323.

Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday showed that Reed has raised much more than Robertson for the complete 2014 campaign cycle – $1.85 million versus $1.04 million – but he’s also spending his campaign cash at a far faster rate. As a result, Reed said he had $1.08 million left in his campaign account as of March 31, which is only about $262,000 more than Robertson.

Robertson, who chairs the Tompkins County Legislature, reported her strongest fundraising quarter yet. She said it is a sign that voters in the sprawling 23rd District, which stretches from Lake Erie to Ithaca, are responding to her campaign.

“I am extremely proud of the 4,500-plus citizens who have stepped up and joined our mission to bring economic opportunity and common sense solutions to Washington,” Robertson said. The fact that we’ve raised a million dollars with 91 percent of the donors giving less than $250 this quarter shows that we are building an exciting grassroots movement that voters of the 23rd District support.”

But Reed also said he was happy with his fundraising total for the quarter.

“Our campaign continues to grow each day, and I’m honored to receive generous support from the folks in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” Reed said. “I care about our families and our communities and I will continue fighting for jobs and the future.”

The quarterly campaign finance reports, which were filed with the Federal Exchange Commission, showed Reed and Robertson waging vastly different campaigns so far.

Reed has spent approximately 55 percent of the money he pulled in as of March 31, while Robertson has spent only about 23 percent of what she has raised.

Reed’s FEC filing portrays an incumbent gearing up for a potentially tough fight. The document shows seven people on Reed’s campaign payroll during the quarter, nearly $75,000 in fees paid to campaign consultants and an array of charges from caterers used at fundraisers.

“We have been making early investments in the campaign which will help us communicate Tom’s record of fighting for jobs and the future to voters,” said Katherine Pudwill, Reed’s campaign spokesperson. “The response both in terms of volunteer and financial support in the district has been overwhelming.”

Still, Reed – who won re-election in 2012 over Democrat Nate Shinagawa by a surprisingly narrow margin of 3.8 percentage points – has reason to believe he will be facing another tough fight.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month added Robertson to its “Red to Blue” program, which targets races the party thinks it can win from a Republican incumbent. And that was before Robertson announced her fundraising total at the end of the first quarter.

“The fact that we’ve raised more than one million dollars proves we have the support and resources to win this seat in November,” Robertson said.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com