With under a month to go before the primary election is held, Tompkins County legislator Anna Kelles has amassed a sizable fundraising lead in the Democratic primary race, the winner of which will become the presumptive favorite for the New York State Assembly 125th District seat.
Kelles’ campaign finance report shows fundraising figures of $49,625.02, representing a significant lead and more than doubling the next closest candidate. She is followed by Seph Murtagh, the only other candidate to report five figures of campaign donations. Behind those two are Beau Harbin, Jordan Lesser, Lisa Hoeschele, Jason Leifer and Sujata Gibson. The numbers come courtesy of the New York State Board of Elections.
For clarity, the amount of money left on-hand for the campaign is equal to the amount of monetary (non-service) donations, minus the amount of money spent by the campaign. Total donations is equal to the amount of monetary and in-kind donations a candidate received.
If fundraising is to be taken as any indication, Kelles has set herself apart from the rest of the pack with under five weeks left pre-election. She has raked in nearly $50,000 in donations, including $35,190.02 in individual donations across 195 transactions (not necessarily 195 donors). The vast majority of the donations are from Tompkins County residents, and Kelles has been given another $9,000 of in-kind donations (which are services provided for free or discounted to support the campaign). Local developers Frost Travis and Costa Lambrou were two of her larger supporters; other smaller contributors include several current and former Tompkins County officials. As for organizational donations, she was given $4,400 by the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union local chapter, as well as $500 by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union.
Kelles has spent $10,925.17, leaving her with $29,164.85 on hand. The bulk of her expenditures are on miscellaneous campaign expenses, though she has also paid over $6,000 to Maurice Brown, her Syracuse-based campaign manager.
For his part, Murtagh has raised $23,274.34 since his campaign began, the vast majority of which was accumulated through individual donations (162 transactions). The largest donors were a local doctor, John Bezirganian, and two apparent family members, along with smaller donations from several fellow Ithaca Common Council members. He also received $500 from the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, who endorsed Murtagh. City of Ithaca residents dominate Murtagh’s donor roster.
A large chunk of his donation transactions came through ActBlue, an online fundraising platform that Democratic candidates use to connect with donors. Murtagh, along with Gibson and Hoeschele, all used the service heavily.
He’s spent $5,490.82, leaving him with $17,783.52 on-hand. Most of Murtagh’s expenses relate to either ActBlue fundraising or lawn signs.
Harbin’s fundraising figure is third highest, although that doesn’t tell the full story. Harbin lists a series of campaign payments that he paid for himself as “in-kind donations,” instead of expenditures, meaning he paid $3,294.40 for things on behalf of the campaign, mostly Facebook ads. Harbin pulls his support almost exclusively from Cortland residents, although he additionally received a $268.52 payment from the Committee to Elect Michael Barylski, a fellow Cortland County Legislator. Individual donations to Harbin amount to $5,905.00 over 69 transactions, which would actually place him last if the in-kind donations were considered expenditures. Harbin also started off with $1,010 in the bank, presumably from a previous county legislature campaign.
Largely, Harbin spent money on print advertising and a digital billboard, to the tune of $2,029 of the $2,806 total the campaign spent. His campaign is left with $4,376.71 in the bank.
Pulling in fourth, Lesser was able to accumulate $9,310.00 with 31 transactions. Like the other candidates, much of his funding is local. Most of Lesser’s donations came from a relative, who gave $4,000, and an out-of-state donation of $1,000 from a Srivatsa Gupta, from Pensacola, Florida.
Lesser also gave himself a loan of $10,000 at the beginning of the campaign, which is not accounted for in his donation total but is represented in his current balance. Lesser received $950 of in-kind donations. Lesser’s expenses, most of which centered on advertising and lawnsigns (including, wonderfully, SignsOnTheCheap.com), amount to $7,643.21, and he has a balance left of $11,666.79.
Lisa Hoeschele - CEO and Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services: $7,602.08 total donations
Hoeschele is the other candidate hailing from Cortland County, and predictably most of her support comes from Cortland residents. She’s collected $5,502.08 in individual donations, about $1,600 of which came from Hoeschele and her husband. Hoeschele has received $2,100 total in payments from two corporate entities: Bailey Place Insurance and Tyler’s Cleaners.
Hoeschele has $4,663.29 on hand. As for expenses, Hoeschele has spent $2,938.79 on fundraising, campaign signs and literature, and other such campaign expenses.
Jason Leifer - Dryden Town Supervisor: $7,334.22 total donations
Leifer’s biggest donor was himself, putting over $4,100 of his own money into the campaign. Due to filing complications, Leifer’s under-$100 donors were unclear, but he can count Tompkins County Legislator Mike Lane and Dryden Town Board member Dan Lamb among his campaign supporters with over-$100 contributions each.
Leifer estimates that the campaign will have spent $4,368 by June 1, though because of the filing issue it can not yet be itemized. That would leave his campaign with $2,966 going forward.
Gibson has emerged as arguably the most controversial candidate in the race; she had already staked a claim opposing vaccination requirements in schoolchildren, and has more recently begun publicly questioning the city’s decision to allow 5G into Ithaca and the science behind the new data coverage. Still, she’s been able to raise $5,925.42 in individual donations across 53 transactions, and another $1,191.22 of in-kind donations, and like the others much of her support came locally. Gibson’s two biggest donors are family members, according to the filing.
Gibson’s most significant expense, outside of lawnsigns, is a $500 payment to Stephen Carpineta from Owego, communications director for the New York Progressive Action Network, for consultation. Overall, she has spent $2,054.22, with a balance now of $5,062.43.