Gus Christensen Brings Nearly $400K to Assembly Run

Gus Christensen with Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos.

Gus Christensen with Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos.

The race for Micah Kellner’s Upper East Side assembly seat is already on track to becoming one of the most expensive contests in the state.

One candidate, Cory Evans, will file with $250,000 in his campaign account, Politicker reported earlier today. And it turns out that even that amount–relatively immense for an assembly race–will be overshadowed by the sum raised by a second candidate, business executive Gus Christensen, who will report a haul of nearly $400,000, according to a source close to him.

In a statement provided to Politicker, Mr. Christensen, who was said to have contributed about $250,000 from his own pocket, touted the sum as a sign of his campaign’s strength.

“I am humbled and honored by this groundswell of support from across our district,” he said. “These numbers clearly show that New Yorkers are excited about the prospect of bringing real progressive representation back to the East Side and Roosevelt Island.”

Mr. Christensen said he will make a final decision about whether to run or not in the “coming days,” but sources in the district say a run is very much in the works. The managing director of Evercore, an investment bank, he has already hired Red Horse Strategies to represent him.

Mr. Kellner has not filed his numbers yet with the state–today is the filing deadline–but a recent report shows he only had a little more than $30,000 in his account.

The incumbent has been the subject of controversy since last summer, when sexual harassment allegations emerged as he was running for the City Council. Mr. Kellner eventually lost that race and recently was stripped of his committee chairmanship after an Assembly investigation found him in violation of the Assembly’s anti-sexual harassment rules. Mr. Kellner, who has maintained his innocence, is appealing the ruling and says the investigation was flawed and did not provide him due process.

Mr. Kellner’s future is unclear. Some Upper East Side Democrats believe Mr. Kellner could serve out his term and not seek re-election, while others foresee him battling on. Mr. Evans hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Kellner in September of 2012, adding further intrigue to the contest. Some sources speculated that Mr. Evans’ entry into the race could mean that Mr. Kellner may eventually choose to step aside.

Mr. Kellner has not returned requests for comment.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the fund-raiser Mr. Evans hosted for Mr. Kellner took place in September of 2012, not 2013. 

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