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What you need to know for 10/19/2017

Campaign donation stats show cost of local races

Campaign donation stats show cost of local races

Businesses liked giving to state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, during the last election cycle, accor

Businesses liked giving to state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, during the last election cycle, according to an analysis by a good government group.

More than $200,000 from insurance, financial and banking interests was contributed directly to Seward’s campaign, making him the top recipient in this category among candidates for the state Legislature.

The figures are based on an analysis of campaign contributions during the last election cycle compiled by Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Campaign donation figures for other regional office holders reveal an array of of spending levels and even break down counties into per capita donation levels.

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The complete NYPIRG report can be found on the Capital Region Scene blog at

Additionally, Seward was 10th on the list of politicians that received the most contributions from donors categorized as businesses.

These distinctions were irrelevant to Seward. “I frankly don’t sit and analyze these things,” he said, while noting that his campaign had a broad base of contributors.

Separate from NYPIRG’s analysis are independent expenditures made on the behalf of candidates, like television ads supporting a candidate. These expenditures are not open to the same kind of reporting as contributions, which makes it possible that insurance, financial and banking interests spent more money on other candidates when all the sources are considered.

Seward was chairman of the Senate’s Insurance Committee the last two years and would like that title again.

“I can’t speak to what motivates contributions,” he added. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to who is contributing to my campaign.”

Seward said insurance companies probably like his pro-growth policies. In particular, he stressed his support for competition in the insurance industry, which is a benefit to consumers too.

Seward is not among the biggest earners in the state Senate, all of whom came from outside the Capital Region.

Freshmen Assembly members Phil Steck, D-Colonie, and Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, made the top 10 of total contributions to their campaigns among Assembly candidates. Steck brought in about $384,000 and Santabarbara raked in about $482,000 in the election cycle.

The candidate that received the second most individual contributions was former Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga. He netted $648,000 from individuals, 20 of whom gave maximum allowable contributions by law. Also on the top of these lists were the other Republican senators who supported marriage equality — same-sex marriage — in 2011.

On the other end of this issue was McDonald’s opponent, freshman Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, who received two maximum contributions, which was tied for 13th most in the state.

A vast majority of individual contributions came from New York City, but almost 7 percent came from the Capital Region.

About $314,000 came from individuals in Saratoga County, which gave them the relatively high distinction of having $1.43 contributed per person in the county. On the other end of the spectrum was the $10,000 from Fulton County, which gave about 18 cents per person.

Schenectady County generated almost $138,000 in contributions, at 89 cents per person, Montgomery County raised $37,000, at 74 cents per person, and Schoharie County generated almost $21,000, at 64 cents per person.

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