Republicans, Democrats battle for funds in key State Senate races

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Long Island Democrats in key State Senate races largely have kept pace with their GOP opponents in the contest for campaign funds as the parties battle for control of the chamber in November, state Board of Elections filings show.

In the 8th District, Nassau County Legis. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) raised $231,149 from Jan. 1 to June 30, according to filings released Tuesday. His opponent, Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), raised $82,915 and transferred another $140,590 from his legislative account. Denenberg loaned his campaign $50,000 in January.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), running for his third term in Nassau's 7th District, raised $193,350 during the filing period. His Democratic opponent, East Hills businessman Adam Haber, raised $218,067 and loaned his campaign $79,500.

In the 3rd District in Suffolk County, environmentalist Adrienne Esposito, seeking the Democratic line, raised $163,302 and has $136,025 on hand. Islip Supervisor Tom Croci, who announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination yesterday, has about $100,000 available in his supervisor campaign fund.

Venditto, who during the filing period spent $39,709,primarily on campaign literature, has $191,440 on hand. Denenberg, who spent $32,512,largely on fundraisers and office expenses, has $190,992 available.

Venditto received $10,300 from the Nassau Police Benevolent Association's political action committee and $2,500 from the Nassau Detectives Association's PAC. Both unions plan to endorse Venditto."It's important to maintain a Republican Senate to have balance in Albany" said PBA president James Carver. "Keeping the Senate in Republican hands is good for Long Island."

Venditto also received $1,000 from Robert Mangano, the brother of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, and $10,300 from Frank Castagna, a developer who built Americana Manhasset.

Nassau Republican spokesman Tony Santino said "Venditto has raised substantially more for the Senate campaign" than Denenberg, citing the Democrats' six-figure transfer from his legislative account.

Denenberg's contributors include law firms and labor unions. He received $1,000 from labor arbitrator Martin Scheinman and $100 from Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy.

"I am proud of the support I received from numerous hard working individuals and families in the district, instead of relying on large contributions from politically-connected outsiders," Denenberg said.

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Esposito's largest donors were unions, which gave a total of $19,375. Her biggest individual donors were Dr. Lucy Waletzky, head of the state parks council and a niece of late Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, and State Sen. Michael Gianaris, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Each contributed $10,300.

Esposito also received $1,000 from former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, $500 from former Suffolk County Executive Patrick Halpin and $1,000 from Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius.

Esposito's primary opponent, Joseph Fritz, said he expects to form his fundraising committee in the next five to 10 days.

Croci, who recently returned from a yearlong tour in Afghanistan, announced his candidacy after Islip Town Board member Anthony Senft dropped out of the race Monday. Croci said he has about $100,000 available in his supervisor campaign fund; he had $112,893 at the time of his January filing.

Martins spent $92,753 during the filing period and has $385,940 available, said campaign spokesman Chris Schneider.

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"We are very pleased by the support we've received in recognition of Senator Martins' record of cutting taxes, creating jobs, and working tirelessly in a bipartisan manner for the residents he serves," Schneider said.

Haber spent $70,947 and has $226,620 on hand, said campaign spokesman Jacob Tugendrajch.

"My message of making state government work for Nassau County taxpayers has really resonated with people, and I'm pleased that so many unions and women's advocacy groups have decided to stand with me in this race," Haber said.

Haber and Martins' campaign filings were not available Tuesday.

Haber largely self-financed his unsuccessful 2013 campaign for the Democratic nomination for Nassau County executive with $3 million in personal loans.

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In the 5th Senate district, which cuts through both counties, Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) raised $67,659 and spent $34,651. He ended the period with $282,484 available.

His Democratic opponent, Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, raised $23,705 and spent $2,755. Kennedy has $20,949 available for the Senate campaign, which he launched last week after ending a Republican bid for the Assembly seat held by Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and switching his party affiliation to Democrat.

The move came after the Nassau Conservative Party announced last month that it would not endorse Kennedy in his Assembly run after the mayor presided over a pair of same-sex marriage ceremonies. The Nassau Republican Party then withdrew its support and announced plans to back attorney Louis Imbroto against Lavine.

In the race to replace retiring Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), Democratic candidate Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, raised $183,550 and spent $36,219. He has $147,330 in cash on hand.

Kaminsky's GOP opponent, Avi Fertig, raised $26,562 and spent $866. Fertig, an aide to the GOP Hempstead Town Board, now has $25,695 available.

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