By the numbers
Here is the breakdown of money spent by or on behalf of candidates in the 46th state Senate District:
Senate Republican Campaign Committee, $307,645.55
Balance New York, $195,000
Chiroscuro PAC, $40,401.67
Jobs for New York Inc., $840,918.09
Jobs New York Committee, $3,296.67
National Federation of Independent Business/New York Save America’s Free Enterprise, $8,656.27
New York State Association of Realtors Fund $409,067.16
New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, $17,250
NY2A Victory Fund, $21,341.25
Amedore campaign committee, $1,034,298.36
Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, $236,083
State Democratic Committee, $42,004.97
Citizen Action for Fair Elections, $28,088.39
Committee for a Pro-Choice New York, $45,000
New York Friends of Democracy, $416,525.86
New Yorkers for Good Jobs and Good Schools, $7,857.14
New Yorkers Together, $119,555.65
Vote-Cope Unauthorized Committee, $634,000
Tkaczyk campaign committee, $728,915.62
Source: New York Public Interest Research Group
The race for the 46th District seat has become one of the most expensive in state Senate history.
Spending has reached $5 million between the two candidates, Democratic incumbent Cecilia Tkaczyk and Republican challenger George Amedore.
New York Public Interest Research Group’s Bill Mahoney said that’s the most money he has ever seen in a Senate campaign, and he expects that number to continue to rise before Election Day.
“It does certainly seem to be one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, Senate race ever,” Mahoney said. “We have already crossed $5 million between the two of them combined. Up until fairly recently, a very expensive race would have been $2 million.”
Mahoney said more money has been spent on the race than on the state comptroller’s race.
Senate Democrats and Republicans are zeroing in on the district in an effort to claim the majority. To do so, they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on political mailers, radio time and television ads.
“The spending is equal to over 120 years of the median household income in Montgomery County,” Mahoney said. “There has been $28.23 spent per voter in the district.”
Amedore is challenging Tkaczyk for the second time, after he lost by 18 votes two years ago in a district carved out for a Republican victory. The 46th District covers parts of Albany, Schenectady and Ulster counties and all of Greene and Montgomery counties.
As of Friday, nearly $2.9 million was spent on Amedore’s campaign and about $2.3 million on Tkaczyk’s campaign. Of that, $1 million came directly from Amedore’s campaign committee and $730,000 from Tkaczyk’s committee. The rest was funded by outside groups such as political action committees.
Individual and PAC donations to state Senate candidates are capped by law at $10,800, but PACs can spend an unlimited amount on advertising on behalf of candidates.
Jim Plastiris, spokesman for Tkaczyk’s campaign, said money is being spent on the Duanesburg senator to clarify her voting record, which he said Amedore’s campaign has been lying about.
“George Amedore and the wealthy New York City landlords and anti-choice organizations supporting him have been spreading lies about Sen. Tkaczyk for two years,” Plastiris said. “George has been lying about his own extreme, anti-women voting record, as well.”
The Amedore campaign slammed Tkaczyk’s campaign over recent donations, calling them “a blatant attempt to skirt maximum contribution limits.” According to state Board of Elections filings, the Ulster County Democratic Committee donated $60,000 to Tkaczyk’s campaign Oct. 17 and another $100,000 three days later.
The state Nurses Association PAC gave $60,000 to the Ulster County committee Oct. 14, the same amount that was transferred to Tkaczyk’s campaign three days later. Also, the committee received $102,300 from the Communications Workers of America District One PAC and Service Employees Imternational Union Local 32BJ United’s American Dream Fund about a week before the $100,000 was given to Tkaczyk’s campaign.
“For someone who has now run two campaigns on a pledge to take the money out of politics, Cecilia Tkaczyk seems to have no trouble evading the law to continue to reap the benefits of massive contributions from liberal New York City special interests,” said Eileen Miller, spokeswoman for Amedore.
Tkaczyk’s campaign fired back that New York City real estate interests donated nearly $1 million to Amedore’s campaign. Amedore, of Rotterdam, is vice president of Amedore Homes.
“George Amedore’s priorities having nothing to do with the needs of the 46th Senate District, and his extremist record proves where his true loyalties lie,” Plastiris said.
Amedore’s campaign said the 46th District race will determine the direction of New York state and that it’s vital to have a Republican majority in the Senate.
“One-party, all-Democrat control in government will result in higher taxes, more seniors being forced to choose between buying their medicine or paying their utility bills and more businesses leaving the state,” said Miller. “It’s important to have a strong Republican majority in the Senate to provide checks and balances and protect our upstate communities.”
Mahoney said he believes the effectiveness of both campaigns has been diminished with millions of dollars pouring in to bombard voters with hundreds of advertisements.
“Once you reach a certain number of ads, they won’t be as effective,” he said. “At a certain point, people have already seen them and heard their arguments. It seems like they are at a point where they are trying to keep up with their opponent.”
Mahoney said the race is the perfect example of the need for campaign finance reform.
“This is the biggest example we have yet of super PACs and outside spending in New York state,” Mahoney said. “I don’t have any reason to believe any candidate is behaving improperly, but when you’re talking about mountains of money you’re seeing in this race, that should be observed.”