Friday, January 16, 2009

Money Pit and an Exit

First, the breaking news: The leader of the Democrats in the Rensselaer County Legislature says she will not be seeking re-election to the Legislature. Ginny O'Brien says she will run for East Greenbush Town Board instead of running for re-election to the county job.

We'll deal with the O'Brien departure next week, but suffice it to say that it is a huge setback to the Democratic legislative campaigns in 2009.

But the biggest setback for Democrats is the awesome gap in fundraising between Dems and the GOP. Lately, Democrat loyalists were tooting their horn, saying that Senator Joe Bruno's departure meant an end to campaign cash for the GOP. Well, that isn't the case.

A review of campaign financial statements, available on the website of the New York State Board of Elections, shows various GOP candidates with a combined amount of more than $250,000 on hand. County Executive Kathy Jimino filed with $98,000, the county GOP came in with $63,000 and the campaign committee for Republican legislative candidates, the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, showed a balance of $60,000. We hear other legislative candidates have or will file with another $10,000. The very strong showing follows a packed house at a GOP legislative fundraiser earlier this month.

Compare that $70,000 for GOP legislative candidates to the paltry $10,000 the county Democratic party has, and the $2,200 filed by the Democrat's legislative campaign committee. It gets worse for Democrats. One of their potential County Executive candidates, Flora Fasoldt, filed a "No Activity" report for the last six months, meaning she did not raise or spend money. Another potential Exec candidate, Brian Zweig, does not even appear to have a campaign committee.

The saying is politics is that is early money is like yeast – it helps raise the bread. Following that logic, the huge difference in fundraising between the GOP and Democrats is likely to only get worse as the year progresses.