Friday, January 18, 2008

Spare a Quarter for Senator Connor?

The Optimist reported earlier this week State Senator Martin Connor bemoaning that he would have to spend $300K-$400K to stave off a challenge from Daniel Squadron.

Well, he better get fund-raising.

Campaign finance reports show that young Squadron is dramatically out fund-raising the incumbent, having raised $199,296 by the end of 2007. Connor, on the other hand, had a closing balance of -$38,217.60. That's "-" as in negative.

According to a 2006 article in the Observer, Connor complained that the negative figure is owing to an accounting glitch perpetrated by the computers at the Board of Elections. When The Optimist spoke to Connor's consultant Evan Stavisky today for comment, his campaign stuck to the story, even though a year and a half has passed since the alleged problems first surfaced.

Stavisky said that in actuality the campaign's records demonstrate that the Senator's bank account is in the black but, owing to a software error, the numbers have been tabulated incorrectly by the Board of Elections. Asked if the Board of Elections was incorrect in denying an error on their end, Stavisky challenged the logic of their figures. "[State Sen. Connor] clearly does not have negative money in the bank," argued Stavisky. "You can’t have a negative amount of money in the bank."

When The Optimist protested that he personally has had negative money in the bank on several occasions, Stavisky responded, "Not for two years."

Stavisky explained that Connor would rectify the incongruence in the accounting numbers by starting a new committee to receive money for his campaign and eliminating the old one.

Asked how much money the Senator did have on hand, Stavisky admitted that it was "less than $5,000". Nonetheless, Connor has no immediate plans to start fund-raising. Stavisky said that Connor was concentrating on his legislative work and wouldn't start dealing with "politics" until the new Senate session is farther underway.

Despite the late start, Stavisky is confident that the Senator will not be penniless by the time of the primary: "Unlike his opponent two years ago and his opponent now, Senator Connor did not inherit a great deal of money, but when the time comes he will raise the money that he needs to successfully defend his seat."

As for Squadron, his records list 352 contributors to his campaign, including a number of big-money donors. By the Optimist's count, 12 of Squadron's donors gave him $6,000, the maximum amount an individual can give to a State Senate primary campaign. Among those with deep pockets were Democratic mega-donor S. Donald Sussman, a resident of the Virgin Islands; Alice Rosenwald, daughter of Julius Rosenwald, the renowned Jewish philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co.; and Judy Wilpon, wife of New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon - who also handed over $3,500, bringing their family total to $9,500.

Despite the largess Squadron has enjoyed so far, The Optimist advises his readers not to put too much stake in these numbers so far in advance of the September 9th, 2008 primary. This year marks Connor's 30th year in the Senate and a formidable incumbent of his tenure is always a force to be reckoned with.

The Optimist has little doubt that Connor will find as much money as he thinks he needs to battle Squadron.

1 comment:

gary said...

It's also worth noting that Ken Diamondstone spent a reported $1 million in the last primary, and still lost to Connors by 10%.

It will be an interesting race to follow, that much is for sure.