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Sheriff Howard is the big spender in Erie County races

Almost a month before the November election, Michael P. Kearns is outspending his Democratic opponent in the county clerk's race by almost 3 to 1.

Republican County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw is outspending his Democratic rival by 9 to 1.

But the big money is in the sheriff's race, where incumbent Timothy B. Howard has outspent his opponent by 20 to 1.

Howard's campaign spent some $221,400, compared to Democratic challenger Bernard A. Tolbert's almost $9,500, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections. The reports cover the period from mid-July 2016 through Oct. 2.

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"It's a 2-1 Democratic county," Christopher Grant, a Republican political consultant said, referencing the 130,000 Democratic voter enrollment advantage over Republicans in Erie County when asked about Howard's campaign spending. "Republican candidates are always the underdogs. Sheriff Howard always campaigns hard and aggressively to win, and that includes raising the resources necessary to run a successful campaign," he said.

While the Democratic challengers are behind in the money race, all — Democrats and Republicans alike — still have cash to spend. More fundraisers are planned before the Nov. 7 election.

After spending $22,356 on his campaign, Kearns — a Democratic assemblyman running on the Republican line for county clerk — had $62,800 in his campaign fund as of Oct. 2 while his Democratic-backed challenger, Steven J. Cichon, spent almost $8,000 and had $27,710 remaining.

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Mychajliw, after spending $118,592 on his re-election bid for comptroller, had $20,825 left. His challenger, Vanessa Glushefski, has spent just over $13,300 and had $49,979 remaining.

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Howard had $84,467 remaining, while Tolbert had $62,965 left to spend.

Tolbert acknowledged it's tough to match the fundraising abilities of the three-term incumbent, but he said he has enough money to run a competitive race and his upcoming fundraising will ensure he can run an effective campaign. He said he will be running television commercials next week.

"Money doesn't always win, as we've seen in the last election," Glushefski added, referencing the presidential race when Democrat Hillary Clinton outspent President Donald J. Trump, the winning candidate.

Glushefski continued that she's happy with her own fundraising in the comptroller's race.

"We are doing very well," she said, adding that money her campaign raises is being spent wisely — just as county tax dollars will be if she is elected.

She also questioned Mychajliw's ability to raise money, given that some of the money he has spent in the campaign was raised last year. He also is entering the final month of the campaign with less money than Glushefski had on hand, as of Oct. 2.

Political consultant Grant, speaking for the Mychajliw campaign, dismissed Glushefski's analysis of Mychajliw's fundraising abilities.

Mychajliw, who was first elected to fill a one-year unexpired term before winning a full four-year term in 2013, raised nearly $500,000 over the past five years to run three county comptroller campaigns, Grant said.

"Donors from all over Erie County are supporting Mr. Mychajliw by more than a 3:1 margin over his opponent," Grant said. "He will run extremely hard, and will raise money until the end — and raise the money on his record."

"She should learn to read both sides of the ledger," Grant said of Glushefski. "She hasn't read the expense side. She will see he has spent more than she raised, including her transparent loan to the campaign.

Grant was referring to a $25,000 loan Glushefski's campaign received from her husband, Peter Reitz, representing about 40 percent of her total $63,300 in fundraising.



Sheriff's race

Howard has done the most extensive fundraising and spending of the countywide candidates. He had $64,000 in his campaign fund, then raised $241,500 — including $30,000 as in-kind donations — in the current campaign season.

Howard's $221,400 in spending so far in this campaign is about $80,000 ahead of his spending at this point in his 2013 race against Democrat Richard E. Dobson and Bert D. Dunn, who ran on a minor party line. By the time that 2013 race was done, Howard had spent about $300,00, according to campaign spending reports.

When the 2017 race is complete, Howard is expected to have spent roughly what he spent in 2013, according to Grant. "We're spending different," he said.

Howard's biggest contributors so far this campaign season include Diane DeMarco, of Orchard Park, with the Wings Flight of Hope nonprofit organization. She contributed $11,500 worth of in-kind donations for a Howard fundraiser.

Other major Howard donors include the Teamster's political committee, Washington, D.C.; Frey Electric Construction of Tonawanda; Violet Realty of Bethesda, Md.; developer Mark Croce, and Donald T. Denz of Orchard Park, each contributing $5,000 in cash or in-kind donations.

Howard's spending included $80,000 on television advertising and $10,000 on radio as well as almost $12,000 on lawn signs.

He also paid $6,100 to Cookfair Media consultants in Syracuse, and just over $3,000 to Get Noticed Promotions in Cheektowaga for campaign items such as jackets, shirts and decals.

Tolbert's biggest donors include SECM Holdings, a company connected to the Buffalo law firm of Cannon Heyman & Weiss, which contributed $5,000. Other $5,000 contributors were Catherine F. Schweitzer of Middlesex Avenue, and Herb Siegel of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Tolbert also loaned his campaign $25,000 — representing almost one-third of his $72,500 in total campaign funds.

His biggest expense so far has been $2,700 for website design, but his upcoming television commercials are expected to be a significant cost.

Comptroller's race

In the comptroller's race, Mychajliw's biggest contribution is $15,000 from Charles Joyce of Wellsville. He is the head of Otis Eastern Service pipeline construction company and a member of the New York Republican State Committee.

Other major donors include Vanocur Refractories of Tonawanda, which contributed $6,000, and Calspan chairman John R. Yurtchuk of Williamsville, who donated $4,500. Also donating a total of $4,500 were several entities tied to developer Carl Paladino, including his Turning Albany Upside Down political action committee.

Mychajliw's biggest expenses include $85,000 to Big Dog Strategies in New York City for television advertising, and another $3,800 to Axiom Strategies in Washington, D.C., the political consulting firm Christopher Grant is associated with.

Glushefski's biggest financial support, aside from her $25,000 family loan, includes a $3,000 contribution from the Women's TAP political fund of Buffalo, $2,000 from Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner's political fundraising committee and $1,000 each from Sean Cooney of Buffalo and Phillips Lytle, a Buffalo law firm.

Her biggest expenses so far include $3,600 for lawn signs and $2,500 for campaign T-shirts and pencils.

County clerk's race

In the clerk's race, the biggest contributions received by Kearns came from James Eagan of Colden, and Paladino's Turning Albany Upside Down political action committee. Each contributed $2,500.

Kearns' biggest expenses included $7,200 to the Erie County Republican Committee, $1,100 to Innsbruck Printing of Buffalo and $1,000 to the Independence Party of New York.

The largest contributions to Cichon's campaign were $3,070 from the Erie County Democratic Committee and $2,500 from his wife, Monica Cichon.

His largest expenses included about $500 to Voice Broadcasting in Arlington, Texas, and about $500 split between two local companies for campaign literature.

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