Three trends are emerging in Long Island’s high-profile political contests this fall, according to campaign spending records filed with the state this week.
First, Democrats have far outpaced their rivals in campaign spending over the homestretch of three of the Island’s highest-profile elections this fall.
Second, Democrats not only are spending more overall but also they are far outspending their rivals on television and online advertisements, showing they are making more broadcast and targeted appeals to voters, analysts said.
Finally, the filings point out another trend: The Nassau County Republican Committee has sent far more money to its candidate for district attorney than county executive in October.
To some, the Democratic spending in the races for Nassau County executive and for district attorney posts in Nassau and Suffolk County merely shows the power of incumbency. But others said it might be in reaction to signs that 2021 could be a good year for Republicans locally.
In Nassau, incumbent County Executive Laura Curran and district attorney candidate Todd Kaminsky, a state senator, each have spent more than $1 million over the last three weeks, according to records filed with the state Board of Elections this week.
In contrast, Bruce Blakeman, Curran’s Republican opponent, spent $360,000 over the same time period. Anne Donnelly, the Republican squaring off against Kaminsky, spent $603,000.
In the race for Suffolk County district attorney, the Democratic candidate is spending more than the Republican — though the totals are lower than in Nassau. Incumbent District Attorney Timothy Sini, a Democrat, spent $798,000 over the last three weeks compared with $118,000 spent by Republican Ray Tierney.
Democrats have spent a "prodigious amount of money" near the end of the campaign homestretch perhaps in reaction to signs 2021 might be a Republican year at the polls, said Michael Dawidziak, a Suffolk County-based political consultant who works primarily with Republicans. Dawidziak said he isn’t working for anyone in the three high-profile races.
Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said Democrats are raising more money in part because Curran, Sini and Kaminsky are incumbents (even though Kaminsky is running for a different office).
Levy said Curran is expected to spend big because "nobody is forgetting 2009 when Tom Suozzi left $2 million on the table and lost" — a reference to the then-county executive who didn’t spend all of his campaign funds and lost in an upset to Republican Edward Mangano.
In the big three races, all the candidates are spending a lot on television -— with more than half of their expenditures going toward last-minute ads.
Kaminsky bought $684,000 worth of television time for ads so far during October. Donnelly isn’t far behind with $545,000.
There is a bigger discrepancy with online ads. Over the last three weeks, Kaminsky has spent about $117,000 for digital ads compared with Donnelly’s $19,000.
A similar pattern is occurring in the county executive race.
Curran spent $696,000 on television ads compared with Blakeman’s $480,000. For digital ads, Curran spent $138,000 compared with Blakeman’s $20,000.
In the race for Suffolk prosecutor, incumbent Sini’s campaign paid $620,000 for TV ads in October. Republican Tierney spent $95,000.
The filings also show the Nassau GOP sending more money to Donnelly than Blakeman.
In October, the county committee transferred $520,000 to Donnelly’s campaign, $260,000 to Blakeman. Separately, the committee spent another $81,000 on Donnelly’s behalf, $46,000 on Blakeman’s.