You'll find some of the best political reading around in the campaign finance reports filed at www.elections.state.ny.us for New York candidates, and www.fec.gov for federal candidates.
Here are some interesting factoids gleaned from their pages:
*Joel Giambra is keeping in touch with his old Republican friends. The former county executive, who still counts almost $519,000 in his campaign account, dropped $10,000 in 2008 on the New York State Republican Committee.
Giambra has made no secret of his desire to support the rejuvenation of the state party through his still hefty account.
*Former Mayor Tony Masiello, meanwhile, has inched ahead of Giambra in the Retired Pols Division with $525,000 in his account. He dropped $5,000 on his pal Bill Stachowski last fall when the senator was in re-election trouble, while giving $10,000 to Erie County Democrats as well.
His biggest expenditure of 2008, however, was a $25,000 donation to his alma mater, Canisius College. No doubt the check memo line said "Go Griffs!"
*Then there's former U.S. Attorney Denise O'Donnell of Buffalo, who vied for the attorney general job in 2006 but lost out to Andrew Cuomo at the Democratic State Convention. She still boasts more than $400,000 in her campaign account, though she has never faced a single voter.
Still, if Cuomo decides to run for higher office in 2010 and the attorney general job opens, O'Donnell's campaign account would rank as a powerful plus in any second shot at AG.
*Former heavyweight boxer and Senate candidate Joe Mesi may have hung up his boxing gloves, but the $78,000 left over in his campaign kitty still makes him a contender. The only question is: for what?
*Erie County legislators are gearing up in 2009 for election year -- some better than others. South Buffalo Democrat Tim Kennedy is the most well heeled of the bunch with $44,581, with Chairwoman Lynn Marinelli second at $30,789.
Buffalo's Betty Jean Grant reports the biggest hole to fill with a $4,493 debt (Legislators Barbara Miller-Williams and Kathy Konst are also in negative numbers).
*Some Albany Democrats remain miffed at having to pour Senate funds into what was considered Stachowski's safe district in 2008.
But Stachowski could counter that he held his own for 27 years and never bothered the Albany types for any campaign money.
Now Stachowski reports about $70,000 in the bank, bolstered by a major fund raiser he held last week in Albany. Fat campaign kittys, you see, have a way of scaring off even the most determined challengers.
*And on that score, Sheriff Tim Howard won't scare off many Democratic challengers this election year with only about $11,000 in his account.
*The reports won't show until later this year how much the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent on Buffalo and Rochester radio a few days ago blasting Republican Chris Lee, but we surmise the rookie congressman couldn't be happier. Many observers thought last fall's DCCC ads linking him to goose-stepping Chinese soldiers and their "growing nuclear threat" backfired big time.
Even the campaign of Democrat Alice Kryzan acknowledged at the time its displeasure over the DCCC ads.
*Of course, former Congressman Tom Reynolds should not be included in the likes of mere mortals when it comes to fundraising. Federal records show Reynolds still sitting on a campaign pot of about $1.3 million, which should safely ensconce him as a political force for years to come.
The sum also crowns him the all-time local king of fundraising among former local pols.