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Spending in Jacobs-Small race reached nearly $2.8 million

ALBANY – Total spending on the New York State Senate 60th District race between Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Amber Small cost nearly $2.8 million. The money came from the candidates, party committees and super PACs whose contributors have major business dealings in Albany.

That is just below the $3 million spent in the same district race two years earlier, when three candidates – including an incumbent – ran.

The bulk of the spending this year came from the victor. Jacobs' campaign had expenditures of approximately $1.3 million, including what he spent for his September party primary race.

In a five-week period leading up to Election Day, Jacobs spent $773,000, or an average of about $22,000 a day.

Jacobs ended up winning with 59 percent to Small’s 39 percent of the vote.

The spending for the campaign was not tallied until this week, when campaigns across the state submitted their post-election filings with the state elections board.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in other races, provided no money for Small’s campaign. Privately, Senate Democrats said Small throughout the race trailed Jacobs, who enjoyed better name recognition as Erie County Clerk and as a member of the family that owns Delaware North. The Democrats, instead, focused resources on closer contests on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

The New York State United Teachers union, however, spent a lot of money to support Small. Its super PAC, the Fund for Great Public Schools, unleashed $718,000 – nearly three times what Small’s own campaign contributed – to try to help the Democrat overcome Jacobs.

The $718,000 NYSUT spent on the losing effort for Small was less than the $1.5 million it went through on a Hudson Valley race trying – also unsuccessfully – to defeat longtime Sen. William Larkin, a Republican.

“NYSUT has a very grassroots endorsement process,’’ said Carl Korn, a spokesman for the union.

He said NYSUT endorses regardless of party affiliation, though this year it was involved in efforts that would have flipped the Senate to Democratic control.

“In the 60th District, our members indicated that they believed Amber Small would be a fighter for public education and organized labor rallied on her behalf,’’ Korn said.

NYSUT’s main campaign fund also gave Small $11,000 a few weeks before the campaign that was in addition to the $718,000 its Super PAC – also known as an independent expenditure committee – spent on her behalf.

In 2014, NYSUT spent $1.1 million helping to elect Sen. Marc Panepinto, a Buffalo Democrat who is leaving his job at the end of this month after just one term.

Several groups sat on the sidelines this year for the 60th District, including a pro-charter school group that has had proxy wars with NYSUT in Senate contests. New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany spent just $17,000 on the race, and that was to conduct polling.

“It was clear early on that Chris Jacobs was a very strong candidate with a great track record on education and we’re very excited to work with him,’’ said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, the group behind the charter school-supporting super PAC.

Super PAC spenders representing New York City real estate developers, hospitals and nursing homes and a communications workers’ union also remained largely out of the Senate 60th District race.

In all, Jacobs and his key backers spent $1.7 million to help elect him.

New Yorkers for Independent Action, a group that backs education law changes including a tax credit program to assist parents of children in private schools, allocated $139,000 on Jacobs' behalf towards the end of the contest.

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee tossed in another $285,000 on Jacobs' efforts. It spent far more in other contests, but those were much closer races.

Scott Reif, a Senate GOP spokesman, said Jacobs was an “exceptional candidate’’ for the Republicans.

The bulk of the expenditures by the two candidates or their allies went for television advertising, followed by the usual expenses for mailings, consultants and polls.

At $213,000, Small’s own campaign account spent a fraction of the $1.3 million Jacobs’ fund steered into the race. Both Small and Jacobs handily won their September primary races, and their opponents spent minimal amounts of money.

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