23rd = new 21st Congressional District: $ Owens Far Ahead in Dollars


For campaign money, U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, has a big lead over his two challengers in the newly drawn 21st Congressional District race.

As of mid-April, Owens had raised $1 million, according to the nonpartisanCenter for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. That compares to about half as much — slightly more than $495,000 — by Republican Matt Doheny and $3,545 by Republican Kellie Greene.

Doheny and Greene face each other in a primary on June 26 for the GOP nomination. The winner challenges Owens in the general election on Nov.6. The newly drawn 21st Congressional District replaces the 23rd Congressional District.

Here’s an early look at the candidates’ campaign finances:

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (incumbent, Democrat)

The Democratic party’s leadership political action committees — or PACs — as well as lawyers and law firms are among the major sources of campaign funds for Owens as he seeks his third term in the House.  That’s according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Owens himself is a lawyer and a former managing partner at Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, and Trombley law firm.

Here’s an overview of Owens’ fundraising, from reports filed with theFederal Election Commission:

  • As of April, Owens raised more than $1 million.
  • Of that, the majority — 56 percent or $572,910 — came from PAC contributions.
  • 35 percent — or $359,000 — came from individual contributions of $200 or more.
  • Of that, 15 percent — or $55,000 — of individual contributions came from lawyers and the financial sector.
  • His biggest donor among lawyers is Israel Kornstein, an attorney of K & L Gates in New York City who gave $10,000.
  • As of mid-April, Owens has spent just over $300,000.
  • And he had a little more than $700,000 cash on hand.

“There are a lot of lawyers who are motivated in politics and I’m not at all surprised to see the large contributions from that field,” said spokesperson Sean Magers. “The nature of the game is you have to raise money and that’s what we’re doing.”

Matt Doheny (Challenger, Republican)

For Matt Doheny, personal contacts and cultivated individual relationships have played a major role in his financial campaign:

  • As of April, Doheny had raised more than $495,000.
  • Of that, 28 percent — or $140,000 — came from individual contributions from lawyers, law firms and the financial and business sector.
  • 14 percent— or $19,000 — came from PAC contributions.
  • $125,000 — or   41 percent — came from out-of-state donors.
  • As of mid-April, Doheny had spent just over $85,000.
  • And he had more than $415,000 cash on hand.

Doheny’s major contributions from outside the district have been criticized by his Republican opponent for the party’s nomination.  But Doheny’s campaign dismisses the criticism.

“Matt focused specially on individuals and he appealed to them more this quarter,” Jude Seymour, deputy campaign manager for Doheny, said. “And it’s been easier for Matt to tap into some business contacts.”

Kellie Greene (Challenger, Republican)

Challenger Kellie Greene has criticized Doheny’s sources for much of his money.

“All of Doheny’s donations but two came from Wall Street,” she said. “So tell me who’s he going to be working for?”

Greene credited her personal contacts within the district and getting to know the voters as reasons for her running for the Republican nomination in the district. Her finances were considerably less than Doheny and Owens. But, Greene said, she is focused on the campaign and the voters.

“It’s not all about the money,” she said. “It’s about the voters.”

Her fundraising report to the Federal Election Commission shows:

  • As of April, Greene had raised $3,545.
  • $750 — or 21 percent — is from Greene’s own pocket.
  • As of mid-April, Greene had spent $2,400.
  • And she had a little more than $1,000 cash on hand.

(Sistina Giordano is a graduate student majoring in magazine, newspaper and online journalism.)


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