Spinning the meaning of campaign money

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, delivers

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, delivers his annual State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Jan. 8, 2014 in Albany. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino during a news conference on March 7, 2014 in Albany. (Credit: AP / Mike Groll)

Money attracts money, as revealed by state campaign reports filed yesterday and the spin that followed.

Any top-dog candidate who outraises an opponent figures it will become increasingly difficult for that underdog to make up the financial ground needed to spread his message.

After all, lobbyists and others who seek to stay in good graces with a powerful elected official will rarely risk alienating the side everybody believes will carry the day. They have been known to bet on the presumed winner as if getting a piece of a heavily favored horse.

Republican Rob Astorino raised $2.8 million over the six-month reporting period just ended. He transferred in $600,000 from his county campaign fund, and had $2.4 million on hand after expenses. Spokeswoman Jessica Proud noted the funds came from 4,000 donors and that $1 million of it came over the past month.

But Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's dollars dwarfed Astorino's as expected, revealing $8.5 million received since January and $35 million left on hand.

Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committee member from Nassau, sees the big Cuomo war chest as representing political success. "It speaks to the enormous energy and support Cuomo has and also to the grassroots support the governor has," Zimmerman said. "It is very energizing to your fundraising community when you see that kind of achievement."

State legislative races vary by district, and the "smart money" doesn't always win. But opposing camps in the fight for the State Senate Tuesday were vying to sell the idea that their filings show momentum. The implicit message: To side with them is to support those who will hold power.

State Senate Republicans reported raising $3.7 million in the last six months and said they'd report $5 million on hand. They called it a "strong bottom line" showing "New Yorkers are concerned about a return to an all-Democrat, all-New York City government in Albany."

Senate Democrats were expected to report just over $1 million on hand. But Josh Cherwin, executive director of that campaign organization, claimed GOP fundraising is lagging and that the gap between their resources has narrowed.

Sometimes the message is crafted to the money. Conservatives are packaging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as an ideological threat beyond the five boroughs.

Take Republican John Cahill, challenging Democratic Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Cahill thanked supporters in an email for meeting his $1 million fundraising goal. In a pitch for more, he warned: "Eric Schneiderman and his liberal allies like Bill de Blasio will see these figures . . . and will double-down on their efforts to hold onto this seat at all costs."

Schneiderman had nearly $6 million on hand as of January.