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In late June, The New York Times reported that Andrew Cuomo had backed off a campaign pledge of a couple of years ago, when he said he wouldn’t accept certain special-interest donations over $10,000, opting instead to take contributions more than five times that amount.
If it was a bad story for the Cuomo camp, it was even worse news for his Republican challenger, Rick Lazio, who had trailed Mr. Cuomo by more than $15 million when the two camps reported their donations in January. When he appeared on NY1 to talk about the story, Mr. Lazio criticized the attorney general for accepting such big donations, but he also tried to lower the basement-level expectations for his own filing.
“We’re focusing on small donors right now,” Lazio told Times reporter Sam Roberts. “That’s the kind of support we want.”
“But if someone offered you $52,000, you’d take it?” Mr. Roberts asked.
“We’d probably take it, yeah,” Mr. Lazio conceded with a laugh.
In the days before last Thursday’s deadline for reporting the latest fundraising numbers, Republican sources floated the worst to the Post‘s Fred Dicker: Mr. Cuomo might have 20 times the amount of cash Mr. Lazio has.
That turned out to be rosy.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Cuomo uncorked his totals: $9.3 million raised in the past six months, only $1.7 million spent, leaving him with $23.6 million in the bank.
No press release arrived from Mr. Lazio’s camp.
As reporters refreshed the Board of Elections Web site, there were rumors Mr. Lazio might have mailed in his filing, instead of submitting online, delaying the inevitable while the Postal Service and the Board of Elections processed the paper.
But on Friday morning, Mr. Lazio’s filing finally trickled online. He had raised just $1.7 million since January, and had burned through nearly all of that, leaving him with only $688,000 in the bank-or about 3 percent of Mr. Cuomo’s reserve.
Mr. Lazio’s camp stressed that they had almost as many individual donors as Mr. Cuomo. They did not mention that their cash on hand included an emergency $200,000 loan from Mr. Lazio to his own campaign on the day before he filed.
So while Mr. Cuomo’s campaign was spending $23,000 to book Bon Jovi for a birthday fundraiser-according to a report in the Daily News-Mr. Lazio’s campaign was sleeping at the Holiday Inn Express and occasionally dining on McDonald’s and Burger King.
“We will have all the money that we need to win this campaign,” Mr. Lazio told a television reporter on Monday. “It’s an election, not an auction, which I remind people.”
But how much will it take to win?
In the past six months, according to a breakdown from the New York Public Interest Research Group, Mr. Lazio spent $534,904-nearly a third of his haul-on political consultants, who managed to fend off a convention challenge from Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, but have so far failed to pull their boss within spitting distance of Mr. Cuomo.
And then there’s the matter of Carl Paladino. The Buffalo developer-who all but suspended fund-raising in the spring-reported raising $1.76 million, almost all of it from donations to himself. And he’s pledged to spend up to $10 million to capture the Republican nomination and battle Mr. Cuomo in the general.
It was Mr. Paladino to whom Mr. Cuomo referred when he took a minute from his barnstorming RV tour to address his massive war chest.
“I have to raise money to be competitive,” Mr. Cuomo told the Times-Union at the Albany County Democratic Picnic on Saturday. “I don’t have personal money. … My opponents will have money, and I need to raise money to be competitive; otherwise, I can’t do any of the things I want to do.” — Reid Pillifant
See below: a high resolution version of the scorecard.
Information Graphic by Nigel Holmes
Additional research by Bill Mahoney, NYPIRG; Amanda Cormier; Eliot Brown; David Freedlander; Esther Zuckerman; and Julia Halperin.