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Unopposed candidate has one of richest judicial campaign war chests

There isn’t a political observer within 100 miles who thinks that anyone but Acea M. Mosey will be elected Erie County’s next Surrogate Court judge.

But just to make sure, the Buffalo lawyer reported Monday that she has about $900,000 in contributions, one of the richest – if not the richest – judicial campaign treasuries in local history. The report to the state Board of Elections shows a near-even split of contributions from individual donors and a $450,000 loan the candidate provided herself.

Most of the donor money stemmed from an event her supporters staged in February at Kleinhans Music Hall, attended by a who’s who list of the area’s legal and political elite, as well as those doing business with Surrogate Court.

Mosey is a Democrat running with Republican and Conservative backing. And with no other candidate filing for the seat, the current public administrator in Surrogate Court and her brimming campaign kitty appear to have scared off any opponent.

“Nobody else is on the ballot,” campaign treasurer Philip Tantillo said.

He said he expects the candidate to refund the bulk of her contributions to donors.

“If the campaign were over today, we would be required to refund about 75 to 80 cents on the dollar back to contributors,” he said. “That’s the game plan.”

Tantillo said he does not anticipate any significant broadcast advertising, given the backing from three parties and no other declared opponent. He also noted Mosey’s various campaign expenses, including a relatively modest $24,000 in contributions to other political campaigns.

A businesswoman who runs her own law firm, Mosey is a wealthy candidate who has earned accolades from much of the legal community as highly qualified for the job. As the court’s public administrator since 2005, she works closely with the surrogate judge.

Mosey is a “friendly, intelligent, experienced and qualified” candidate, and “I don’t see any reason why she should not be the surrogate,” said Kenneth C. Kruly, a former Democratic Party insider and strategist who now publishes a blog called Politicsandstuff.com. He said Mosey pushed all the right political buttons throughout her candidacy.

“The race for surrogate has been pretty much over since last year,” Kruly said.

Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo, an enthusiastic Mosey backer, said the candidate could not be sure she would be unchallenged.

“The amount of money she raised is a testament to her very broad support across all party lines,” he said. “Clearly she is a formidable candidate.

“No one knows how much you might raise when you have a fundraiser,” he added. “I told her that she was able to unite the divided. All parties were represented at her fundraiser.”

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