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Battle for bucks shows hometown advantages in Erie County exec race

Lynne Dixon is winning big in Hamburg, and leads in Blasdell and Orchard Park as well.

Mark Poloncarz – with an almost 3-to-1 fundraising edge over Dixon – is taking Buffalo, including the downtown business district, and he's rocking Lackawanna.

Snyder looks like a bit of a wash; Williamsville tilts to Poloncarz.

But this is not a poll, at least not the traditional kind.

It is instead a look at how fundraising seems to be going in the county executive race between Poloncarz, the Democratic incumbent, and his challenger, County Legislator Dixon, an Independence Party member running with Republican Party backing.

Now is a crucial time in the county executive race as the campaigns rev up for the all-important and always pricey political advertising season leading up to the Nov. 5 election.

The most recent campaign finance reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections in mid-July show Poloncarz had almost $638,000 in his campaign fund and Dixon had $216,500.

Both campaigns have continued to raise money since then. The Dixon campaign says it is "closing in on $300,000." With an upcoming Northtowns funding event, the campaign anticipates Dixon showing more financial strength in the northern suburbs.

The Poloncarz campaign, meanwhile, says it has raised as much as $70,000 since the July filing, with plenty more fundraising planned countywide right up to the election.

Each campaign downplays its opponent's fundraising abilities, while bragging about its own.

And both say they are poised to take their campaign to the airwaves, possibly within weeks.

"Normally the start is after Labor Day," said Dixon campaign manager Bryan Fiume. "We haven't placed a buy yet."

"We'll be up sooner rather than later," said Poloncarz campaign manager Jennifer Hibit.

Dixon runs for county executive, labeling Poloncarz 'hyperpartisan'

The Buffalo News analyzed the mid-July campaign finance reports as well as previous reports in the current election year, looking at how much money the candidates have raised, as well as who and where the money is coming from.

Here are some takeaways:

  • Poloncarz's campaign continues to get significant financial support from unions as well as firms doing business with Erie County. His most recent contributions include $10,000 from Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, $10,000 from Harris Beach and $7,500 from James DeMarco of the Bengart and DeMarco firm. All three law firms do work for the county, records show.
  • Dixon's campaign received another five-figure contribution from the Erie County Republican Committee. With this additional $10,000, Dixon has now received $35,000 from the committee, which is her biggest donor.
  • Dixon's campaign raised $260,000 this political season, most of it coming in after she declared her candidacy in late February. Almost 40% of the money comes from her top five donors, including the county GOP committee.
  • Poloncarz raised $417,000 this political season, which goes back to July 2018. Twenty-five percent of his money comes from his top 10 contributors, the largest being Amherst developer Michael Joseph, whose companies gave Poloncarz $20,000.
  • Just over 40% of the money Poloncarz raised, and 25% of Dixon's money, comes from donors with Buffalo residential or business addresses.
  • Poloncarz's campaign is also outspending Dixon's. Since announcing her candidacy, Dixon spent $53,000 through mid-July. Poloncarz's campaign spent $65,000 during that same period, but his campaign had been spending money prior to Dixon entering the race, reaching upwards of $176,000 over the 12-month period ending in July 2019.

 

Geographically, Dixon has received the largest number of contributions so far from the 14075 ZIP code in Hamburg, the community where she resides and that she represents as the 9th District Erie County legislator. She received contributions totaling $34,225 from 153 Hamburg residents and businesses.

Her largest contribution from Hamburg was $10,000 from Brian J. Lipke, the former CEO of Gibraltar Industries. There were also a few $1,000 contributions from the ZIP code, as well as a $1,250 donation from Hamburg Town Republican Chairman Mark Cuda.

But most of the Hamburg contributions were considerably smaller, with the median being $100.

Dixon's second largest number of contributions came from the Orchard Park ZIP code, 14127. She received 67 donations from 54 different people and firms, totaling $15,085. The donations included a $5,000 contribution from Nancy Ackerman, a former Orchard Park councilwoman married to Philip Ackerman, the chief executive officer of National Fuel Co.

Dixon also received a sizable chunk of money from one Buffalo ZIP code, reflecting her donations from the Erie County Republican Committee.

For Poloncarz, the ZIP code analysis found he's Buffalo's favorite – in the city's neighborhoods as well as downtown.

He's raised a total of $170,000 from the heavily Democratic city, compared with $66,000 raised by Dixon, The News analysis found.

Poloncarz picked up $66,000 in the the downtown 14202 ZIP code from 33 donors, reflecting support from developers, lobbyists and law firms. Former Mayor Anthony Masiello and his lobbying firm gave Polonarz $1,200. The Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman law firm, which records show has done over $8 million in work for the county since 2016, donated $10,000 to Poloncarz's campaign.

In the city's neighborhoods, almost $27,000 came from two adjacent North Buffalo ZIP codes, including one where Poloncarz had lived for several years, and $16,000 came from the South Buffalo 14220 ZIP code. The South Buffalo donation includes $12,500 from the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council.

Poloncarz is also winning the money race in Lackawanna, his hometown, where he's picked up almost $10,000, including $2,000 from Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski in the 14218 ZIP code. Dixon raised $2,510 in that ZIP code.

Poloncarz is also ahead in the Williamsville ZIP code, where he picked up almost $41,000, with one donor, Joseph of Clover Management, contributing $20,000 through 12 different corporations tied to his company. Clover Management is located in Lancaster, just over the Amherst town line, but uses the 14221 Williamsville ZIP code and mailing address. Dixon collected just over $16,000 in that ZIP code, 14221.

In the Eggertsville/Snyder area, conversely, Poloncarz picked up $11,680 while Dixon picked up $32,000, which included a single $25,000 contribution from Patrick Hotung, president of the Main Place Mall complex in downtown Buffalo, who lives in the 14226 ZIP code.

 

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