Some of New York’s best political reading lies within the website of the State Board of Elections. Here are a few nuggets mined from that treasure trove on the fund raising and fund spending of our New York pols:
• Under the “You Can Never Have Enough” category, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week finished counting the 33 million dollar bills he has received during his term. That should get him through the weekend.
But while politicians like Cuomo stuff their coffers to scare off anyone even pondering a challenge, it’s also often necessary in a state like New York. A Republican like Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin of suburban Troy says he won’t run for governor this year because he has no money. Manhattan real estate developer Donald Trump, meanwhile, is suddenly serious about taking on Cuomo. He now says he will spend $30 million to $50 million of his own money.
For those keeping score at home, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, also mulling a Cuomo challenge, has about $680,000 as of his last report in late 2013.
• Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy will need all kinds of money again this year as he will almost certainly face another serious challenge from the likes of County Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant or maybe even former Sen. Antoine Thompson, who reliable sources say is pondering a comeback attempt this year.
For Kennedy, raising money never poses a problem. He reported a healthy $215,000. Spending money poses another problem.
In 2012, for example, Kennedy dropped around $400,000 against Grant, who spent only $20,000. The senator won by a whopping 300 votes.
Kennedy also joined up with the WNY Progressive Caucus last year, a political committee with close ties to former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon, dropping about $85,000 on a fund aimed at Grant and other candidates backed by Democratic Headquarters.
Grant won handily.
• Kevin Stocker, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo in a 2012 primary, is out there again this year. He reports only $634 on hand, but has been spending money.
Grisanti, meanwhile, starts out with about $80,000 in the bank, with his largest contribution ($2,500) coming from Howard Zemsky, the Cuomo confidant whose largess reflects the close relationship between the Republican senator and Democratic governor.
But the spring meeting in which Republicans consider Grisanti and Stocker for endorsement should prove interesting. Stocker is no favorite at GOP HQ, and Grisanti’s support of Cuomo’s strict gun control law known as the SAFE Act poses a non-starter for many Republicans.
• Don’t look now, but an election for county clerk is sneaking up on us. Republican incumbent Chris Jacobs reports a healthy $252,000 on hand for a 2014 re-election bid, more than enough to scare off any Democrat who has yet to even hint at a challenge.
Jacobs, a potential challenger to Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz in 2015, relies on a loyal following of family and core Republicans to build his war chest as he tries to again prove that Republicans can win in overwhelmingly Democratic Erie County.
• Nobody has yet filed financial reports for the Assembly vacancy stemming from the resignation of Democrat Dennis Gabryszak, but be assured a lively and expensive contest lies ahead – mostly in an expected Democratic primary. One question now hovering over the process is whether some of the interested Dems from the Lancaster portion of the district – such as Council Members Donna Stempniak or Ron Ruffino – carry the party clout to prevail over a candidate from the Cheektowaga heart of the district – such as Councilman Jim Rogowski.
• We would need an entire page to list all the candidates ready to spend lavishly on running for five State Supreme Court slots this year. Suffice it to say that when the Saturday morning regulars gathering to talk politics at Daisies in Lackawanna spot a new face, they know it’s another candidate for the bench.