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State incumbents fatten their wallets

Last week I reported that our local State Senate and Assembly members have some $2.2 million in the bank as we head into this election year. A government watchdog organization has done the math statewide, and it's more than $32 million.

Reports the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

Incumbents in the State Legislature have already stockpiled $32.8 million for this year's elections.

Incumbents averaged about $164,852 in their campaign coffers last month, five times more than the two dozen challengers who've already announced their candidacies, according to campaign-finance reports and a review by the New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG.

"It gives all the incumbents a huge head start over the people who might want to challenge them," said Bill Mahoney, NYPIRG's research coordinator.

"Even if there is this angry voter sentiment, the incumbents will still have the power to spend tons of money on ads and mailings to get their names out there."

The power of incumbency in New York has led to a 98 percent re-election rate; only 39 incumbents have been defeated in November elections since 1982, less than three each election year.

Folks, this is not good, not if you're interested in reform of state government. Or at least want to be represented by someone who knows which way he votes.

If there's a silver lining, our local incumbents don't have quite as much in the bank as their colleagues. Our guys average about $115,000, compared with nearly $165,000 statewide. But that average is skewed by the huge amounts of money raised by Senate and Assembly leaders.

Just for the heck of it, I checked on their campaign fund balances and here's what I found;

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has no less than $2.6 million on hand to defend his seat. Yipes!

Senate President Malcom Smith has $660,169.

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada actually filed a report -- for a change -- showing a balance of $252,478. That makes him a relative pauper.

Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson reported $737,707.

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos has $1.34 million in the bank.

Who says crime doesn't pay?

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Politics | State government
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