CAPITAL REGION — The North Country congressional contest between U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, and Democratic challenger Tedra Cobb remains the most expensive congressional race this year in the Capital Region, but new federal filings show plenty of money has poured into other local congressional campaign coffers, as well.
The candidates running in the 19th, 20th and 21st congressional districts all filed third-quarter financial disclosure reports with the Federal Elections Commission that became public Thursday and Friday, giving a glimpse into their financial positions a month before the election.
The Stefanik-Cobb race has been high-profile and drew some national attention last winter, but filings reviewed by The Daily Gazette also show that U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko’s Republican/Conservative challenger, Liz Joy of Glenville, has raised far more cash than previous Tonko challengers.
In the 19th Congressional District, meanwhile, incumbent freshman Democrat Rep. Antonio Delgado has an overwhelming financial edge.
In the 21st Congressional District race, both Stefanik and Cobb have raised millions of dollars — enough money for heavy television advertising in the multiple media markets in a district that encompasses the entire North County. It stretches from Saratoga and Fulton counties north to the Canadian border.
As of the Sept. 30 reporting deadline, Stefanik had an available cash balance of $4.1 million, while Cobb, a business consultant and former St. Lawrence County legislator from Canton, had $1.35 million available.
The Stefanik-Cobb race was in the national spotlight late last year when Stefanik’s outspoken defense of President Donald J. Trump during House impeachment hearings angered many Democrats. That anger generated a surge in individual donations to Cobb, who is running again after losing to Stefanik in 2018.
In the last quarter of 2019, Cobb’s campaign collected nearly $2.2 million, but fundraising then fell off, FEC filings show. It is now rebounding; in the July-September quarter she raised more than $1.1 million to fuel a final push to Nov. 3.
Since her 2018 election to a third term, Stefanik has, in total, raised nearly $11 million, with about $9 million from individual donations and $1.5 million from political action committees. Her individual contributions have shot upward with her prominent defenses of Trump during the hearings and on cable television.
While endorsements of challengers by established leaders in their own parties are commonplace during an election season, Cobb last week touted an unusually high-level endorsement, one from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“When Tedra saw a gap in the health care system in her community, she started a community health agency,” Biden said in a statement released by the Cobb campaign. “When the fire department had a volunteer shortage, Tedra signed up. As a legislator, during a trying economic time, Tedra lowered the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. Tedra has delivered real results for Northern New York, and that’s exactly the kind of leadership we need in Congress.”
Stefanik’s campaign immediately dismissed the impact of the Biden endorsement. “Everyone knows that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will lose the North Country overwhelmingly,” said Stefanik spokeswoman Maddie Anderson. “Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is proud to support President Trump for re-election.”
Stefanik is co-chair of Trump’s New York re-election campaign. Trump handily won the Republican-leaning district in 2016.
In 20th District, meanwhile, Joy has raised nearly $338,000 since January. She had $194,000 in her campaign account as of Sept. 30. It’s been enough money that Joy can afford television advertising to promote her law-and-order and pro-police message — television being something Tonko’s challengers in recent election cycles have been unable to afford.
Nearly all of Joy’s campaign contributions are from individuals, though the Conservative Party has given some money. Joy’s recent contributors include state Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, who gave $250, and 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who gave $2,000.
But Tonko, who has been on the Capital Region political scene for more than 40 years and has been in Congress since 2009, has raised $1.4 million through the 2020 election cycle. He headed into the final month of the campaign with $1 million in his campaign coffers. He recently began a television campaign.
The 20th District, which includes the cities of Schenectady, Albany, Troy and Amsterdam, leans heavily Democratic by voter enrollment.
About two-thirds of Tonko’s funding has come through donations from dozens of political action committees. PAC contributions have come from a wide variety of interests, ranging from organized labor groups to corporations like General Electric, Raytheon, Ford and Toyota. As co-sponsor of a horse-racing safety bill that has passed the House of Representatives, he has also received contributions from racing industry interests.
In the 19th District, meanwhile, incumbent Delgado had nearly $3.5 million available to spend, while his challenger, Poughkeepsie-area attorney Kyle van de Water, has a current balance of $49,500. Van de Water got into the race late, and had to win a June primary for the Republican nomination that was decided weeks later, after the counting of absentee ballots.
Delgado, an attorney from Rhinebeck, was a prodigious fundraiser during his first campaign in 2018, as well. That year he spent nearly $9 million, as he first bested a crowded Democratic primary field, and then in the general election unseated incumbent Republican congressman John J. Faso.
In this cycle, Delgado’s contributors in addition to individuals include progressive Democratic organizations, labor unions, the campaign committees of fellow Democratic members of Congress, and environmental conservation organizations.
The 19th District stretches from the Hudson Valley through the Catskills. It includes all of Schoharie County and the western part of Montgomery County.
The FEC filings show there has been little spending in any of the Capital Region races by independent political organizations that target their funding to critical national races — an indication that none of the local races are seen as highly competitive by national observers.