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DAVIS VS. REYNOLDS: MONEY TALKS -- ANGRILY

Democrat Jack Davis may be the underdog, but when it comes to spending money on his congressional campaign, he's neck and neck with the well-financed Republican incumbent.

And almost all of it is his own money.

Just as he promised, Davis is personally ponying up big bucks -- $807,000 so far -- for his race against three-term Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of Clarence.

Davis, owner of a small manufacturing company in Akron, said the money reflects his long-standing pledge to spend $1.2 million of his own money by Election Day.

"It shows I'm not going to be influenced by anyone," Davis said.

Davis is relying on his personal wealth because his own party failed to deliver, an indication that national Democratic Party leaders view his candidacy as a long shot in the 26th District, which includes Amherst, Clarence and Lancaster in Erie County, all of Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming counties, and parts of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties.

On top of that, he continues to miss out on the special-interest money that has helped fuel the candidacies of other local congressional candidates, including fellow Democrat Brian M. Higgins in the 27th District.

Until this month, the only organization to give Davis a large contribution was the United Auto Workers, which gave him $10,000.

Davis contends that the lack of interest by big-money contributors is because of his strong stance on trade, not his status as an underdog.

"I'm running alone on this issue," he said. "I have a disagreement with the majority of people in power."

Tuesday, the Reynolds campaign accused Davis of "blatant, election year hypocrisy." Campaign manager Brian Walsh said Davis' stance against free trade conflicts with his personal investment in at least 36 companies with a record of outsourcing jobs overseas.

"As a candidate, Jack Davis says he opposes outsourcing," Walsh said in a statement. "But when it comes to his personal profit, he's all for it."

Walsh said Davis' financial-disclosure statement reveals his financial interest in Halliburton, Alcoa and AT&T, as well as pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squib.

"As more evidence of his hypocrisy, Jack Davis has been telling seniors about the high cost of prescription drugs, even while pocketing their profits," Walsh said.

Davis' campaign called the accusations misleading but acknowledged that Davis might have once owned stock in some of those companies.

"Clearly, this is meant to distract from the fact that Tom Reynolds takes money from companies that outsource jobs," said Davis spokesman Curtis Ellis. "Tom Reynolds is the man outsourcing jobs, not Jack Davis."

Reynolds' accusations are part of a new television ad, the latest in a series of attacks and counterattacks by the candidates. The ads are one of the byproducts of a relatively expensive race for Congress.

Through the end of last month, Davis had spent about $729,000 on his campaign, according to new disclosure reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission. That compares with the $1 million Reynolds spent.

The biggest differences between the two candidates are the amounts of money raised -- Reynolds took in nearly $2 million, more than twice as much as Davis -- and the sources of that money.

Unlike Davis, who is bankrolling his own campaign, Reynolds has relied on individuals and political action committees. He is a member of the Republican majority leadership in the House and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee that assists GOP candidates for the House nationwide.

About a third of Reynolds' money -- $700,000 -- has come from PACs, with the finance and insurance industries leading the way with $166,000 in contributions.

Health care companies have donated about $102,000 to the Reynolds campaign, and the real estate and construction industries have given about $60,000.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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