David Bellavia and Chris Collins agree on little in their Republican primary contest for the 27th Congressional District, but do share this much in common: Both are essentially self-financing their campaigns.
Reports filed Friday with the Federal Elections Commission indicate the two candidates have loaned significant amounts to their campaign, with Collins contributing $250,000 and Bellavia $45,000. The documents also show Collins has received only about $5,750 in unsolicited contributions, while Bellavia has received contributions totaling about another $50,000.
But Collins, the former Erie County executive, clearly enjoys the upper hand as the campaign heads toward the June 26 primary. He has spent almost $80,000 of his own money, mostly on three mailings and radio ads in Rochester and Batavia, and says he will not actively solicit campaign contributions until after the primary election.
"I felt having lost the county executive race [last November], I owed it to my past supporters to self-finance this primary," he said. "They can be assured, though, that on the morning of June 27, they'll be getting phone calls."
He has about $176,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period that closed June 6, while Bellavia reported just short of $44,000.
Bellavia, meanwhile, acknowledges he enters the campaign's home stretch as the financial underdog. His approximately $50,000 in contributions to date is considered a relatively paltry sum for a congressional campaign involving both the Buffalo and Rochester media markets.
Still, the Iraq War veteran and author was quick to point out one bragging point.
"I've raised more money than he has," he said.
Bellavia said he never expected to beat the well-heeled Collins at either raising funds or contributing his own money to the campaign.
"But nobody said this had to be a $250,000 or $300,000 race," he said, adding that he expects voter attention to focus only in the campaign's last days. "It's a sprint, not a marathon."
Bellavia said he would have enough to mount a credible campaign, including mailings throughout the district.
His campaign report indicates mostly contributions of under $1,000, with four donors giving $1,000 or more. They include the campaigns of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., and Assemblyman Daniel J. Burling, R-Warsaw.
Collins' most significant contribution was for $2,500 from Geoffrey Rosenberger of Pittsford.