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NY Dems spending early and big to protect first-term senators

ALBANY — New campaign finance reports show Senate Democrats have a significant edge over Republicans and are spending big and early to protect freshman incumbents, including three on Long Island.

Since July, Democrats have spent at least $500,000 on three first-term senators: Peter Harckham in a Westchester County-based district, Andrew Gounardes in Brooklyn and Monica Martinez in Suffolk County, according to state Board of Elections records.

The total includes direct transfers to the candidates’ campaigns as well as paying for polls, mails and ads on behalf of a candidate.

They’ve also spent $367,000 to help Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) and $178,000 on Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport). All were winners in a "blue wave" of Democratic victories that flipped control of the state Senate in 2018.

All told, Dems’ have spent $3.8 million and have $2.7 million in their central campaign committee for the homestretch of the election. This doesn’t include individual candidates’ campaign committees.

By comparison, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee has spent $442,000 and has $978,000 on hand for the final month. However, they will be getting help from billionaire Ron Lauder who recently put $1.7 million into an unaffiliated campaign group that primarily is targeting Senate contests on Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

Their money advantage has Democrats, already controlling 40 of the 63 Senate seats, predicting they will gain more seats.

"The political atmosphere, the momentum and the money are all on our side and we expect all our members to be back with additional new members," Mike Murphy, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said in an email. "New York is a blue state and will continue to ride the blue wave."

Republicans countered they will bounce back after a disastrous 2018.

"While Senate Democrats are raiding the pocketbooks of special interests to cover up their disastrous policies, Long Island's Senate Republican candidates talk to everyday people who are fed up with their bad policies that led to the elimination of property tax relief, dangerous bail reform, anti-police laws and who now want to take away private insurance during a pandemic," Candice Giove, spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said. "We are confident this grassroots support and unprecedented enthusiasm will translate into victory on November 3."

Among individual candidates, Senate Republicans had spent the most on Mike Martucci ($67,000) in his run against Sen. Jen Metzger (D-Rosendale) — who has received $215,000 in help from her party.

On Long Island, in the 5th Senate District, Republicans have spent $28,000 on Edmund Smyth, who is challenging Gaughran. In the 3rd Senate District, they have spent $14,000 on Alexis Weik, who is taking on Martinez. In the 6th District, Republicans have spent $800 so far on Dennis Dunne, who is challenging Thomas.

In the race to succeed retiring Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Republicans have aided Assemb. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) to the tune of $13,000 as of Monday, while Democrats have provided Laura Ahearn $31,000 worth of support.

In the Assembly, Democrats have held control for decades and currently enjoy a 103-42 advantage, with five vacancies. They also hold the financial edge, with $3.8 million in the main campaign account, compared to $892,000 for the Republicans.

Spending on Assembly races traditionally isn’t as big as Senate races. For example, just one candidate in either party, Assemb. Rebecca Seawright (D-Manhattan), has received more than $100,000 in party assistance.

In the fight for the State Senate, here are the top recipients of campaign aid from their parties:

Democrats:

Sen. Peter Harckham (D-South Salem), $610,000.

Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn), $598,000.

Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), $511,000.

Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), $367,000.

Sen. Jen Metzger (D-Rosendale), $215,000.

Republicans:

Mike Martucci, challenging Metzger, $67,000.

Ed Rath, Buffalo open seat, $41,000.

Angi Renna, Syracuse open seat, $34,000.

Steve Brescia, Orange County district, $29,000.

Ed Smyth, challenging Sen. James Gaughran on Long Island, $29,000.

State & Region