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Collins' to-date spending outstrips '07 outlay

Chris Collins has spent more money and has more cash on hand as he enters the final 10 days of the race for county executive than when he first ran four years ago.

Campaign finance reports filed Friday by Collins show he has poured $464,790 into television ads, consultants fees and other expenses in the last three weeks and has $852,948 left to spend in the race against Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz.

Last time around, Collins, a Republican, spent about half that amount in the same timeframe as he sought the office for the first time in a hard-fought race against Democrat James P. Keane.

"Re-elections in this county are historically more difficult campaigns," said Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy. "This is a high-stakes election."

What Poloncarz has to spend in the final days before the Nov. 8 election is still an unknown.

The candidates had until midnight Friday to file the latest reports detailing contributions and expenses, but the reports were only available publicly on the state Board of Elections website if filed before 5 p.m.

"It will definitely be filed on time by the deadline," Peter Anderson, a spokesman for Poloncarz, said Friday afternoon.

Poloncarz three weeks ago reported having $213,000 on hand -- far less than the $1.27 million Collins reported at the time.

But both sides said the financial picture has likely changed since then.

Anderson said Poloncarz has seen an uptick in donations in recent weeks, but declined to detail how much money the campaign has on hand or from where the money has come.

"Mark's fundraising has picked up dramatically," said Len Lenihan, county Democratic Party chairman. "I would say he's going to be very competitive with Collins financially over the next 11 days and has been for the last week or so."

Langworthy said publicly available information about how much television air time the campaigns have bought show the Poloncarz campaign has spent "well over six figures" each of the last two weeks on ads. "He's competing at a high level, and that money didn't fall out of the sky," Langworthy said. "It's not coming out of his own pocket."

An analysis of campaign finance reports filed by both campaigns before Friday showed Poloncarz's largest cash and in-kind donations came mostly from unions and Democratic funds. More than a quarter of the money he raised since July 2010 came from unions, including two that represent county workers whose contracts have expired.

Collins has drawn his largest donations from business executives, developers, law firms and companies -- including those that do business with the county. Also, Collins and his wife have lent his campaign $600,000 since 2009, according to reports.

Campaign financial disclosure reports filed Friday by Collins show he has taken in an additional $47,472 in donations in the last three weeks. Contributions included $10,000 from Michael Vlock, $5,000 from Dunn Tire and $4,500 from 99 Garnsey Road Associates LLC, which shares an address with the Pittsford office of the Harris Beach law firm.

Vlock, of Branford, Conn., is listed as under "partners/advisers" for Sinatra & Co. Real Estate, a real estate partnership founded by Nick Sinatra that also includes Mark Campanella and Carl Paladino.

Collins also picked up $2,000 each from Frank B. Silvestro, BTC Block 1/2 1 Inc., Springville Realty and New Era Cap NY. He took in $1,000 each from Lamparelli Construction Co., Buffalo Truck Center Inc., DNC Travel Hospitality Services Inc., John Catsimatidis, Linda Dobmeier and James Basil, according to the reports.

Reports show Collins has spent nearly $1 million on the primary and general election campaigns since July. Four years ago, he spent nearly two-thirds that amount, but did not run a primary campaign. He later reported spending another $350,000 on campaign expenses in 2007 after the election wrapped up and bills came due.