’09 candidates expected to report record fund$

When the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) releases candidate disclosures on July 15, expect to see a record number of candidates as well as money raised for 2009 citywide elections.
“More candidates are getting started early, and the trend has been that they have raised more money [for] the election than ever before,” said CFB Press Secretary Eric Friedman. “We saw that in the January filing, and we expect that in the July filing.”
As of Tuesday, July 8, 147 potential candidates for 2009 citywide offices filed with the CFB, although five have already terminated their campaigns. In July of 2000 - the most comparable period because of the institution of term limits - 106 candidates had filed with the CFB.
With term limits forcing 12 of the 13 current Queens City Councilmembers out of office in 2009, a number of borough politicians announced their intentions early to run for a specific citywide office, while others are still keeping their options open.
“This is going to be an election unlike any we have seen before when it comes to the amount of candidates, and it will be very tough for voters to sort out all of these candidates in their mind,” said Queens Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is preparing a run for Queens Borough President. “That’s why many of us are getting out there early to lay the ground work.”
Vallone reported nearly $690,000 in January, and he expects that number to increase to more than $800,000 when he files in July. During this most recent stretch, Vallone’s campaign focused more on reaching out to smaller donors as well as those that are eligible for matching funds.
Meanwhile, one of the most crowded races for 2009 is the City’s Comptroller with Queens Councilmembers David Weprin and Melinda Katz as two of the five major candidates who have already declared their intentions to run for the seat.
Weprin and Katz, who each reported raising more than $1.5 million in private funds during the January 2008 filing period, are likely to face challenges from Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who reported nearly $1.75 million in January as well as Brooklyn Councilmember David Yassky and Assemblymember James Brennan, who reported nearly $929,000 and $389,000, respectively in January.
However, it is not just the candidates who have declared for a specific 2009 offices who are expected to report record-high amounts.
During the last filing period, Councilmember Eric Gioia, who many believe will run for Public Advocate, reported more than $1.6 million while Councilmember John Liu, who has not tipped his hand at what citywide office he is seeking, raised more than $2.2 million.
“It’s not a consuming endeavor,” Liu said. “My main job is to serve in the City Council, to get the budget done to make sure legislation is appropriately enacted. At the same time when people want to show support, I do not turn away contributions.”
While term-limited Councilmember are seeking other citywide offices, 28 candidates have already filed to run for City Council seats in the borough in 2009 with more likely to file on July 15 and the next filing date.
In District 19, the seat currently occupied Councilmember and current 2009 mayoral candidate Tony Avella, five potential candidates have already filed with the CFB and others are considering throwing their hat into the ring as well.
As of the January filings, Paul Vallone and Debra Markell-Kleinert reported raising $47,615 and $16,070, respectively, but one of their other likely opponents, Jerry Iannece, said he was not impressed by the high early totals. Iannece believes that the maximum amounts for campaign spending and ability for enrolled CFB candidates to receive matching funds has really changed the fundraising process.
“Campaign finance did a wonderful thing, for lots of people it evened the playing field for everyone,” he said. “For some people, the fact that you raised money makes you a serious contender, but they don’t understand the dynamics of the race.”

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