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Long Island congressional race fundraising hits final weeks

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Democratic challenger

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Democratic challenger and former Southhampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst are running to represent the 1st Congressional District. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

WASHINGTON — For the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin had $1.2 million more in cash to spend than his Democratic opponent Anna Throne-Holst as Zeldin runs for a second term representing the eastern end of Long Island, new filings show.

On the other side of the Island, Democrat Thomas Suozzi had $153,000 more in cash than his Republican opponent, state Sen. Jack Martins, in the race to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), according to campaign finance reports filed Saturday.

The reported cash on hand indicates a campaign’s ability to get its message out in the crucial weeks before the election, although candidates will continue raising money.

Reports filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission cover July through September.

In the 1st Congressional District race in Suffolk County, Throne-Holst, of Sag Harbor, outraised Zeldin, of Shirley, during those three months, collecting $1.2 million and spending $1 million, with $723,129 in cash on hand. Zeldin raised $871,662 and spent $889,820 in the same time period, with nearly $2 million in the bank.

Zeldin also benefited from a $1 million boost in ads and mailings from an outside group called the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC largely underwritten by Las Vegas casino moguls Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Outside groups have spent $81,000 to aid Throne-Holst.

In the scramble for the open seat in the 3rd Congressional District, Suozzi, of Glen Cove, raised $1 million, spent $712,461 and had $477,589 in cash. Martins, of Old Westbury, raised $385,207, spent $470,218 and had $324,984 in the bank.

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent nearly $775,000 to help Martins, and two weeks ago promised to spend $80,000 a week on TV ads for him — but canceled that plan after learning that an Oct. 11 Newsday/Siena poll showed Suozzi 15 points ahead.

Meanwhile, Martins reported that $157,801 of the money he raised and $241,636 of the money he spent during the last quarter was for an Oct. 6 primary against GOP rival Philip Pidot that was ordered by a federal judge. A federal appellate court canceled that primary last month.

The FEC issued an advisory opinion Sept. 13 allowing Martins to ask his donors for a third $2,700 contribution, one more than the usual two — $2,700 for a primary and $2,700 for a general election.

But when Martins asked for the same permission again after the Oct. 6 primary was canceled, the three Democrats and three Republicans on the FEC deadlocked.

The Martins campaign said it would abide by the earlier advisory opinion. The Suozzi campaign objected to that ruling, saying it was unfair to allow a donor to make three contributions.

Martins’ filing Saturday showed six donors took advantage of the ability to exceed the usual $5,400 maximum donation to his campaign. Martins raised an extra $5,100 from those donors.

Filings show the incumbents in Long Island’s other two congressional races with a campaign cash advantage.

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) had $807,577 to spend on the final five weeks of the election in her bid for a second term. Her Republican opponent, David Gurfein, a businessman from Manhasset, had $136,247 in cash.

Rice raised $171,757 and spent $251,751 in the third quarter. Gurfein raised $38,590 and spent $89,700.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) had $2.9 million in the bank after raising $187,569 and spending $301,524 over the summer. Democrat DuWayne Gregory of Amityville, the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer, had $46,204 in cash. Gregory raised $80,541 and spent $100,035 in the last quarter.

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