Share this article

print logo

Walter relies on party money in bid to unseat Poloncarz

If Republican Raymond W. Walter relies on anyone during his uphill run for county executive this election year, it’s Nicholas A. Langworthy.

The Erie County Republican chairman recruited Walter, provides party headquarters for news conferences and events, and stations himself at the candidate’s side along the campaign trail.

But Langworthy is also helping where it really matters – with money. The local Republican Party contributed around $80,000, almost three-quarters of the $110,000 flowing to the Walter campaign in the last several weeks, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections.

And while unions are once again stepping up for Democratic incumbent Mark C. Poloncarz, Walter – a Williamsville assemblyman – enters the last week of the contest still very much dependent on Republican party headquarters. Indeed, the party money sent to the Walter campaign since Oct. 6 far outweighs the contributions of individuals, companies and other political campaigns.

Langworthy makes no excuses, viewing the need to fill campaign coffers as a key part of his job.

“We strongly support Ray’s candidacy and that says it all,” Langworthy said. “When I recruited him, I told him the party would be steadfast for him every step of the way.

“This is what I do,” he added. “As chairman, I help get the resources necessary for our candidates’ campaigns.”

Walter’s last report filed on Friday shows he has raised about $170,000 in the entire campaign, considered a modest amount by countywide standards. But Langworthy points out his candidate has still managed to mount a significant radio and television campaign while sponsoring mail and phone banks, too.

“Ray has been very competitive on the airwaves and we’ve certainly helped him out with that,” the chairman said. “He’s in his third full week of broadcast television ads, and while not matching (Poloncarz) dollar for dollar, we’ve bought a respectable amount of TV.”

The chairman said some people and entities often prefer to donate to the county organization and allow it to use its discretion on local campaigns. That appears to be the case with the New York State Republican Committee, which gave the local party $80,000 – basically financing the county committee’s $80,000 contribution to the Walter effort.

Other significant contributions to the county GOP include $11,950 from several political action committees linked to developer and 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino, $10,000 from businessman Brian J. Lipke, and $2,500 from Republican County Clerk Christopher L. Jacobs.

Several active Republican candidates have also contributed to the local party in recent weeks, which has not always assumed such a key role in county executive campaigns. The last contest in 2011 featuring Chris Collins, for example, relied to a large degree on the Republican incumbent’s own donations as well as from his own inner circle.

But Langworthy noted, however, that the party was heavily involved in helping finance the recent countywide campaigns of Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr., especially his initial effort.

“In a challenger situation, it’s pretty common,” Langworthy said.

Poloncarz weighs in as a fundraising juggernaut compared to his opponent, even though some previous county executive campaigns have raised and spent far more than the approximately $650,000 he reported last week. The incumbent is also enthusiastically receiving money from various labor organizations, which have always proven strong supporters. Of the approximately $72,000 received since early October, about $27,000 has come from unions.

“Mark has certainly been a friend to labor and has worked hard to settle union contracts,” said Jennifer L. Hibit, Poloncarz’s campaign manager and chief of staff. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Mark is happy to accept support from labor.”

The county executive’s union contributions included $10,000 from the political committee of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and $7,000 from two political action committees of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union.

Hibit said that as the son of a steelworker and nurse, Poloncarz is eager to receive labor support.

Other significant contributions to Poloncarz include $5,000 from the Erie County Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association, $2,000 from businessman Jordan Levy and $1,000 from former Republican County Executive Joel A. Giambra.

With about three times as much money flowing into his campaign coffers as his opponent, Poloncarz is so far dominating the airwaves – the main medium for advertising throughout the county. At this late date in the campaign, he has maintained a positive tone to his ads, a sign that most political observers say points to a strong campaign.

Walter, on the other hand, introduced what would be characterized as a negative spot over the weekend that criticizes Poloncarz for his handling of county Child and Protective Services issues.