Both candidates in the 112th Assembly District are spending unprecedented amounts of money on their campaigns, mostly for television and radio advertising.
One reason for the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent is that the quiet, predominantly Republican, suburban and rural district in Washington, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties is “open,” meaning no incumbent is seeking re-election.
Republican candidate Tony Jordan, 44, a lawyer from the Washington County town of Easton, and Democratic candidate Ian McGaughey, 38, a small business owner from the Saratoga County town of Wilton, are battling hard for the seat with big bucks.
The base legislative annual pay in the Assembly is $79,500.
Adam Kramer, a spokesman for Jordan, said Jordan’s campaign committee could spend as much as $600,000 by Nov. 4.
He said Jordan spends about $60,000 per week just on television advertising.
Kramer charged that Democratic candidate McGaughey “is on pace” to spend as much as $700,000 on the campaign judging from what McGaughey has spent so far on television and radio advertising.
Larry Bulman, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, said Friday that McGaughey will spend only about half that. He said McGaughey’s campaign is expected to spend between $300,000 and $350,000 by Election Day.
Large chunks of the campaign money comes from the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee.
This level of campaign spending, until now, has never been seen in the 112th District.
The 112th District has been a Republican stronghold for years.
There are 39,373 Republicans registered in the district and 21,712 Democrats, 20,670 independent or “blank” voters, and a few thousand voters in smalle r, fringe parties.
When current 112th District Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, decided to run for the state Senate this year it left the district open, prompting the big spending on the current campaign.
“It’s a staggering sum,” said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a watchdog group not connected to state government. But, he added, “This is an open seat.”
He said the Democrats in the Assembly know that the Republicans are “hurting” financially while the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee is “flush with cash.”
Horner said the state Democratic leaders want to force the Republican party to spend a lot of money to keep the seat.
Even if the Republicans keep the seat, the Democrats can still “bleed” the Republican campaign committees, at both the local and state levels, of needed dollars, Horner said. “It’s big bucks in a small market,” he said.
Horner said $94,000 legally can be contributed by a single person or organization to the Assembly campaign committees.
“The legal limit should be a lot lower,” Horner said. He said NYPIRG maintains there should be a system of public campaign financing so that an average person can run for office without relying on special interest groups.
The 32-day pre-general election financial reports filed by Jordan and McGaughey with the state Board of Elections shows only the tip of the spending iceberg. The Committee to Elect Tony Jordan shows total receipts of $41,540, with the largest contribution of $25,000 coming from the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee. The Friends of Ian McGaughey show total receipts of $127,448 with the largest contribution of $75,000 coming from the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee.
Kramer said these amounts are quite low because much of the spending and contributions are done later in the campaign and sometimes don’t show up on the financial disclosure forms until after an election is over.
“Polling shows this is a very close race,” said Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Bulman. “We are going to raise for Ian whatever it takes to get his message out.”
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Categories: Schenectady County