What does it take to run for mayor of Buffalo these days?
In Mayor Masiello's case, well over $1 million in the last four years. And he'll spend more before Election Day arrives.
After spending about $600,000 on his primary re-election campaign in the last few months, the mayor's aides estimate that they will raise and spend an additional $200,000 for a full-fledged general election effort, even though Masiello is considered a shoo-in.
Add to that an additional $400,000 raised and spent since 1994 to run his political organization, and Masiello will have spent almost $1.2 million to fuel his re-election machine.
The efforts to raise that additional $200,000 for the general election continued this week, with about 500 Masiello supporters attending a fund-raising event at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society on Wednesday evening.
"There will be more fund-raisers, but we feel we've raised enough money to run a very effective campaign," said Vincent J. LoVallo, the city's commissioner of street sanitation and Masiello's campaign manager.
The latest reports filed with the Erie County Board of Elections show that Masiello's main campaign fund spent $680,429 over four years, while an auxiliary fund called the Mayor's Council spent an additional $259,288. The Masiello organization has spent about $600,000 this election year on printing, mailing, television and radio, campaign treasurer Joanne Cavalieri said. The campaign attracted donations from more than 3,000 supporters, she added.
The $800,000 that Masiello is spending this year is about the same sum he spent on his mayoral bid in 1993.
LoVallo said the Mayor's Council function Wednesday was the first step toward replenishing that fund, which has a balance of about $89,000. The event cost $100 per person. The Friends of Masiello fund, however, has shriveled to about $2,300.
Masiello faces two of his primary opponents -- former Mayor James D. Griffin and Common Council President James W. Pitts -- on minor party lines, as well as Conservative Sharon A. Caetano.
Reports filed this week indicate that Pitts spent about $42,000 during the last weeks of the primary campaign, bringing his 1997 mayoral campaign total to about $81,000. But Pitts enters the general election on the Liberal line with only about $3,800 left, and he acknowledged the difficulty in raising significant amounts of money for the rest of his campaign.
Griffin, meanwhile, reported that he spent about $45,000 in the last weeks of his campaign -- representing most of his spending. But the significant aspect of the lastest Griffin report shows that he has almost $44,000 left in his campaign account, enough to fuel a run for another office on another day.
The general election portion of the campaign will be as intense as the primary, LoVallo said.
"We're comfortable, but at the same time, we're running scared," LoVallo said. "And that's the only way to go."
He also said Masiello plans advertising on radio and television, as well as direct mail.
While the mayor emphasized the accomplishments of the last four years during the primary, the thrust of his new effort will be what lies ahead, LoVallo added.
"We'll definitely be speaking about the future of Buffalo -- where we're headed and where it should be headed," he said. "In that respect, it will be different."