Democrat James P. Keane has roared back into the financial race for Erie County executive, raising about $704,000 so far and catapulting him into genuine competition with rival Paul T. Clark.
Keane, who said he planned to also report about $504,000 on hand to the state Board of Elections at Monday's midnight deadline, is now poised to wage a well-financed campaign in the September Democratic primary after badly trailing Clark in the January filings.
That stacks up against approximately $700,000 that Clark said he planned to file Monday night, with about $550,000 on hand.
Republican Christopher C. Collins, meanwhile, said he will report raising about $251,000, with $151,000 on hand.
A third Democrat in the competition, former Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin, filed a statement with the board indicating he had neither raised nor spent any money. Still, Griffin has been actively campaigning and today plans to file his designating petitions with the Erie County Board of Elections.
But it was Keane's significant gains that were most noteworthy in the latest round of financial reports, putting him almost on par with Clark in a money race that the West Seneca supervisor previously dominated.
"Support for my campaign is growing every day, and the fundraising numbers show it," Keane, a former deputy county executive, said in a statement. "I am proud to have earned the support of more than 1,600 contributors from every corner of Erie County.
"The people of Erie County deserve results," he added, "and that is exactly what I am going to give them."
In the early stages of the county executive race back in January, Clark reported $452,000 to the state board, compared with Keane's $101,000.
Clark said Monday that he remains pleased with his effort over the last six months and that he harbors no worries about having the necessary funds to wage an aggressive campaign.
"I continue to be very optimistic. We've done well," he said. "This community needs this campaign, because there's such a difference between my major opponent and myself."
Clark acknowledged that his new total includes an additional $100,000 of his personal funds that he has lent to the campaign. The new loan follows the approximately $230,000 he lent the campaign in January. That means almost half of his total has stemmed from contributions from his own bank account.
The report filed by Collins indicates he significantly trails both of his main Democratic rivals, but members of the Republican businessman's team said they were still pleased. Campaign spokesman Christopher M. Grant noted that Clark and Keane have been planning their campaigns for more than a year, while Collins declared his candidacy March 27.
"It's a significant amount of money for a candidate who is nonpolitical," Grant said. "What's even more encouraging is that a lot of support comes from people who have traditionally not given to campaigns but believe Chris is the guy for change."
The spokesman added that the Collins total represents more than $80,000 per month and that it is more than twice that of Keane's first filing in January.
"We'll be fully funded and ready to roll on Sept. 18," he said, referring to the date of the Democratic primary, which will be followed by the kickoff of the general election campaign the next day.