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IN SHERIFF'S RACE, DIINA WINNING THE BATTLE OF CAMPAIGN MONEY

Democratic sheriff candidate Rocco J. Diina's yellow campaign signs are popping up all over Erie County, and with a balance of $109,000 in his campaign kitty, you can expect to see even more.

Diina enjoys a huge advantage over his rivals for the sheriff's office, with campaign finance reports filed with the Erie County Board of Elections indicating he has raised about $197,000 and spent $92,000.

His totals far outweigh Republican Patrick Gallivan's total of about $37,000 on hand, with about $58,000 raised and $21,000 spent. That does not bode well for the former state police captain, who must now counter a continued Diina media blitz expected in the upcoming weeks.

Still, Gallivan predicted he will raise enough money to disseminate his message.

"I recognize he has more money and will spend more money," Gallivan said. "But I just don't think money is everything. Qualifications, credentials and vision mean much more, and we have that."

For Diina, however, the numbers indicate the strength of a campaign that has been under way for months. Now, it it expected a continued flow of campaign dollars will finance more campaign advertising, including television.

"We're going to run a quality campaign, which will include all forms of media," Diina said. "I'm thrilled by the quality of support and the fact that it stems from a cross-section of the community."

He also claimed his support stems from bipartisan sources.

Diina's opponent in the Democratic primary, attorney Michael G. O'Rourke, did not file a campaign finance report by the July 15 deadline as required by law. He was unavailable for comment about his failure to file.

In the meantime, O'Rourke has filed objections to Diina's designating petitions, claiming that Diina does not meet requirements to hold the office. But party sources indicate Diina forces have also filed objections to O'Rourke's petitions.

Democrat John E. Hemphill, who filed enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, also did not file a campaign disclosure report. He said he has not yet conducted any campaign spending, so did not file.

Republican Charlie Burkhardt, a Sheriff's Department deputy, filed his report on Monday -- several days past the deadline. His campaign balance stands at about $3,900, raising about $8,400 and spending about $4,500 so far.

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