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GOP funds aligning for Jacobs as Small waits

If anyone doubted Republican Christopher L. Jacobs’ financial advantages in the State Senate contest in the 60th District this fall, the latest campaign records will ease their fears.

His own money and Albany contributions establish Jacobs as the financial favorite at this point. But questions still surround what, if any, outside dollars may assist his Democratic opponent, Amber A. Small.

“It could get rather expensive, depending on Small’s capability of raising money and if the Democrats put any money in,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy.

Senate Democrats remain high on Small, but so far have not contributed. Sen. Michael N. Gianaris of Queens, who heads the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, noted the first head-to-head race of Democrat facing a Republican in the district in recent years.

“We’re not tipping our hand about what we will do, but we are certainly paying close attention,” he said.

So far, however, Jacobs leads in all financial categories, including money on hand – approximately $326,000 to about $17,000.

This means that despite her convincing victory over Alfred T. Coppola in the primary, the 35,000-voter edge in Democratic registration, and the corresponding advantage afforded by high Democratic turnout in a presidential year, Small has not yet clicked with donors.

Campaign manager Matt Tighe would not comment on any commitments that may lie ahead, but noted that Small won the Democratic primary with about 1,000 more votes than the two GOP candidates combined. That proved a testament to the effort of many volunteers working on her behalf, he said. Small is executive director of the Parkside Community Association,

“You can do all the TV commercials and send all the mail you want, but it’s face-to-face conversations that make the difference,” he said.

Jacobs, the county clerk facing Small in Nov. 8 election, demonstrated his early edge with a $53,000 influx from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee just two days after his GOP primary victory on Sept. 13, according to the state Board of Elections.

The almost immediate contribution underscores the strong Republican objective to reclaim the seat occupied since January of 2015 by Democrat Marc C. Panepinto, who declined to seek re-election after just one term. The outcome of the race is expected to play a key role in determining the Senate majority in 2017.

“This is a critical seat,” said Langworthy, who has assigned a top priority to the seat for his operation. “I presume there will be a real commitment, as there was in the primary.”

The Albany money follows a similar influx from Senate Republicans during the GOP primary pitting Jacobs against Kenmore lawyer Kevin T. Stocker. Campaign finance records indicate that Albany Republicans spent about $56,000 on negative ads aimed at Stocker, while Jacobs mostly self-financed his own positive ads during the same period.

While no significant sums of contributions are yet flowing to Small, she may be laying the foundation. The New York State United Teachers union announced Monday its support for her, which could lead to a major commitment of money and personnel for the campaign, although there is no guarantee.

“Amber Small’s commitment to her community, to women and public service make her the right choice to represent the 60th Senate District in Albany,” NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said. “NYSUT is proud to endorse her candidacy, and we will work hard to elect her.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta added that Western New York volunteers will be working at phone banks and canvassing on her behalf.

The NYSUT endorsement looms large because the union spent $1.1 million on Panepinto’s behalf in 2014. That resulted in one of its strongest efforts as it worked to establish a Democratic majority in the Senate.

The union of about 600,000 members spent about $4 million statewide on Senate races in 2014, with only the Panepinto victory to show for its effort on behalf of Democrats.

But NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said that while Small can count on phone banks, leafleting and canvassing by NYSUT volunteers, the union has not yet determined whether it will commit money. While that could mean polling has not encouraged a financial commitment, it is still too early for a decision. “That decision has not yet been made,” he said.

Current reports back up Jacobs’ promise to use his own substantial funds, lending the campaign $200,000. Small has lent $24,000 to her effort.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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