20th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, outpaced announced 2022 election challenger Liz Joy in fundraising contributions six-fold in the first half of the year.
Tonko reported collecting $393,000 to the Federal Election Commission between Jan. 1 and June 30. Liz Joy, who filed paperwork on April 1 to run against Tonko and plans to seek the Republican nomination, raised $63,000 over the same period.
Joy previously challenged Tonko in the 2020 election and received 39% of the vote to 61% for Tonko. It was one of the strongest showings of a Republican candidate in the district. The only county taken by Joy was Montgomery, which is Tonko’s home county.
During that previous race, Joy’s campaign raised $380,000 and finished with a balance of $34,000. Tonko raised $1.55 million, and finished with a balance of $811,000.
The 20th District includes all of Albany and Schenectady counties and portions of Montgomery, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. The district leans heavily Democratic with 211,596 enrolled voters to 116,050 Republicans, according to the most recent state Board of Elections data.
Joy was the Republican candidate in the last election and ran on a conservative platform that included support for then-President Donald J. Trump, a pro-law enforcement stance and opposition to abortion.
Tonko is a self-identified progressive who has served in Congress since 2009 and previously as a state assemblyman for several decades. Tonko has most recently focused on furthering efforts toward economic recovery from the pandemic, combating climate change and supporting investments in infrastructure.
Looking ahead to the 2022 election, Tonko’s campaign currently has $970,000 on hand, while Joy’s campaign has $87,000 on hand.
Dan O’Connor, Joy’s campaign manager, on Friday was unconcerned about the current gap in fundraising totals with more than a year to go before voters will head to the polls.
“It’s a good amount. We’re just getting started, Liz wasn’t even planning to start campaigning until July and kicked off a little sooner,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor declined to comment on any fundraising goals set by the campaign this year. An email circulated on June 30 seeking contributions stated the campaign was $5,000 short of its collection goal on the final day of the 2nd quarter fundraising period. The email did not list the goal amount or contributions collected up to that point.
Tonko on Friday indicated his focus this year has been on working as a congressman amid the transition of administrations and urgent issues such as recovery from the pandemic rather than fundraising or campaigning. Yet, he said the campaign contributions are encouraging.
“We’re encouraged by a great number of people as they enter into our contribution sphere doing so and doing so with a lot of enthusiasm. I think our support is very energetic and we continue to receive both indicators in contributions and volunteers. That’s from a huge array of progressive and grassroots individuals and organizations,” Tonko said.
Despite her previous loss to Tonko and disparity in fundraising totals, O’Connor said Joy is confident about the upcoming election.
“We’re excited about our chances. Liz got more votes in the election than any Republican before her and we’re looking to increase that number again,” O’Connor said. “Paul Tonko has been in public office for over 40 years and hasn’t had to work in the public sector before. He is a glad-handing politician. Liz is an honest person. When people talk to her, they like her.”
When asked his feelings about potentially squaring off against Joy for a second time, Tonko indicated his willingness to face any challenger next year.
“I think voters deserve a choice and I think competition is good for the soul. I always welcome opportunities to share my voting record and how I got to those bottom lines. I think it does the people well to have choice and to have us share where we’re coming from,” Tonko said.
No other prospective Republican candidates have filed paperwork to run for the 20th District in the 2022 election to date. Cole Francis Matthews and Justin Raphael Chaires have filed paperwork to run as Democrats. Matthews has not reported any campaign contributions to date while Chaires has raised $5,425 through June.
It is currently unclear if the upcoming race will be impacted by redistricting ahead of the next election based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census with the state set to lose one of its 27 congressional seats.
The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to deliver the data needed by states to begin the redistricting process by Aug. 16.
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