Candidates in the crowded campaign for mayor are chasing money, as well as votes. On July 15, as required by state law, they opened their campaign bankbooks to the public. The numbers offer a glimpse not only into the kind of resources the six mayoral hopefuls will have on hand going into September’s primaries and November’s general election, but from where they are drawing support.
In terms of dollars, one candidate, Ward 9 Alderman Hayes Clement, stands head and shoulders above the rest. The former media executive began the year with $955 in his war chest; by July 15, the end of the reporting period, Clement had raised another $14,855. The money came from 129 individual donors, 13 local businesses and four political action committees.
The list of Clement’s contributors appears to confirm his status as the candidate of the city’s Democratic establishment. The list includes prominent Kingston Democrats like party committee Chairman Frank Cardinale, county legislators Jeanette Provenzano and Peter Loughran and Common Council President Jim Noble. The largest corporate donors to Clement’s campaign were J&J Sass Electric, which kicked in $1,000, and One Brother Cement, which gave $500. The candidate secured contributions from Political Action Committees linked to Mayor Jim Sottile and Noble, County Executive Mike Hein, Common Council Majority Leader Bill Reynolds and County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach.
The records also show that Clement is the only candidate who placed significant personal funds into the campaign. The filing shows that Clement placed a total of $2,300 into his campaign coffers.
Shayne Gallo, who is running against Clement for the Democratic Party line, sought to downplay his opponent’s financial edge in the race and says that the backing of the city’s Democratic establishment is a reflection that party leaders are out of touch with the city’s Democratic base.
“My campaign reflects the grass-roots, local home-grown businesses and professionals,” said Gallo. “Frank Cardinale and the Democratic party elite are not connected to the rank-and-file Democrats and the rank-and-file voters ofKingston.”
Clement said that he saw his fundraising effort as a necessary component of a campaign where he’s battling for name recognition against a primary opponent with a long-established pedigree inKingstonpolitics.
“But at the end of the day, it’s about meeting people and getting them to vote for you,” said Clement. “The money thing is a sideshow.”
Gallo’s own filing shows a more modest fundraising effort with $5,560 in campaign cash raised between January 1 and July 15. The report lists just 13 individual contributors. Three businesses, Kingston Dental Associates, Hampton Associates and Coach Service America are listed as corporate contributors. The only PAC to support Gallo’s campaign was Friends of Mike Hein which gave $200 — the same amount given to Clement. The bulk of Gallo’s war chest $2,580 is listed as proceeds from a May fundraising event.
GOP hopefuls lag
The fundraising disparity between Clement and his Republican would-be opponents in the general election is even starker. That’s something that GOP candidate Richard Cahill Jr. blamed on what is shaping up to be a four-way primary battle for the party line.
“When you have a four way primary, you have a lot of people who don’t want to donate,” said Cahill, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2007. “Because they don’t know which way it’s going to go.”
Common Council Minority Leader Andi Turco Levin (R-Ward 1) leads the Republican field in fundraising with $3,835 flowing into her campaign coffers during the filing period. Like Clement, Turco-Levin won her party’s unofficial endorsement at last month’s nominating convention and has garnered financial support from the GOP establishment. Among her 70 individual campaign contributors are Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Tony Sinagra, Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigleyand committee member J. Michael Bruhn Jr. Among Turco-Levin’s four corporate donors are Mid-Hudson Valley Credit Union, the only bank to contribute to a campaign so far, and Vetere Real Estate which is run by Turco-Levin’s fellow real estate broker and 2003 mayoral also-ran Karen Vetere. Turco-Levin also received a $35 donation from a PAC affiliated with County Clerk Nina Postupack.
Cahill came in second in the Republican money race with $1,758 for the filing period. $300 of that total came from Cahill’s own PAC, presumably left over from his 2007 mayoral bid. Another $1,157 came from fundraisers held in May and June. Cahill’s report shows that he received no corporate or PAC money.
Alderman Ron Polacco (R-Ward 6) has raised $1,753 so far this year, just $5 less than Cahill. Nearly $1,000 of the total came from small donations at a March fundraiser shortly after he announced his candidacy. Polacco also loaned his own campaign $363. Polacco did not list any corporate contributions, but so far he is the only candidate to receive financial backing from organized labor. Records show that he got $100 contributions from two PACs linked to the Civil Service Employees Association and Local 17 Laborers Union.
The fourth Republican candidate in the race, former school board president Jean Jacobs, did not file campaign finance paperwork. The filings are not required for campaigns that do not raise more than $1,000 during the reporting period.