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McKinstry: Primary battle shaping up in Westchester

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson has raised nearly

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson has raised nearly $427,000 for his campaign for Westchester County executive. (Dec. 4, 2012) Credit: Faye Murman

We have ourselves a race.

Democrat Noam Bramson raised an impressive $427,000 in the last month, bringing his total to more than half a million dollars for his bid to become Westchester County executive.

That leapfrogs the New Rochelle mayor ahead of the presumed front-runner, Ken Jenkins, a Yonkers Democrat who chairs the county Board of Legislators. Jenkins pulled in $176,000, bringing his total to $218,000, according to recent campaign filings with the state Board of Elections.

Bramson’s sizable war chest is just about double what Republican County Executive Rob Astorino had during the same filing period when he was a challenger in 2009 and went on to beat three-term incumbent Andy Spano. That year Astorino had $211,000 in the early stages of his campaign.

Bramson’s success shows he can raise cash in a race that won’t be cheap. A fat piggy bank and well-financed campaign ought to go a long way with Democratic Party leaders as they figure out whom to get behind in their efforts to oust Astorino, a first-term Republican and prolific fundraiser.

Astorino picked up another $1 million, bringing his war chest to $2.2 million, according to his most recent filing.

Nonetheless, Jenkins remains undeterred.

“This race isn’t about who has the most money,” Jenkins told me recently. “It’s about who has a message that’s consistent with the people of Westchester.”

That message will clearly be targeted toward the county's Democrats, who hold a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans.

Jenkins said he expects to spend $500,000 in a primary (date to be determined) and another $1.5 million against the county executive. But first he’ll need the party’s nod, which this week got a little more complicated.

Legis. William Ryan, a Democrat from White Plains, hasn’t raised anything yet, so you’ve got to figure he’ll be dropping out soon enough.

In this race among Democrats, Bramson takes the lead.