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Cuomo Steers To Big Financial Edge

This week, two significant events occurred in the New York governor’s race: Campaign contribution filings were due and frontrunner Andrew Cuomo began an RV tour that he says will take him to all 62 counties before he’s through. In both cases, Cuomo got most of the attention.

Cuomo, the frontrunner in the race for governor, has been spending more time at his job as the state’s Attorney General than campaigning in the weeks since he announced his candidacy.

Lately, he stepped up his political efforts, and this week he began a multi-county campaign swing with his daughters, driving a Winnebago. He started with a stop in the Hudson Valley, where he warmed to a crowd of around 200 at a community college.

“If you want to serve this state, then you listen to the people of this state,” he said, to cheers. “You bring reform and you bring change, and you stop playing politics as usual.”

Cuomo also released his campaign funding status, as required by state law, and says he has over $23.5 million, the largest amount any statewide candidate has raised in New York’s history. He collected over $9 million in the first six months of the year.

Cuomo, who is far ahead in the polls against two potential Republican opponents, hasn’t needed to spend much of his war chest so far. His campaign reports just over $1.7 million in expenditures in the past six months.

“It’s good political strategy,” says Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for Siena College polling.

Greenberg says right now, Cuomo’s lead against Republicans Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino is huge. Cuomo is 32 points ahead of Lazio and 41 points ahead of Buffalo businessman Paladino.

Lazio, a former Long Island Congressman who is the Republican designee for governor, raised nearly $1.7 million in the first six months of this year. That number includes a $200,000 loan Lazio gave his own campaign just a day before the filings were due. He spent around the same amount as Cuomo on campaigning since January, but that means his campaign bank account is left with just $688,000.

Lazio, speaking at an event in Niagara Falls, was undeterred by his relative lack of funds.

“I just want to assure everybody we’re incredibly confident about where we are, about the support we have,” Lazio said.

Paladino, who is petitioning to be on the ballot for the September GOP primary, raised and spent nearly the same amount as Lazio, around $1.7 million, and has just $52,000 left. However, Paladino is wealthy, and has said he can afford to spend up to $10 million of his own money on the campaign.

July 15 was also the date for filing nominating petitions.

Paladino’s campaign filed 28,000 signatures, almost twice as many as the 15,000 minimum required.

Greenberg says Paladino could give the cash-challenged Lazio quite a run for the GOP primary.

“Likely Republican primary voters are more conservative than the average Republican in this state” said Greenberg.

And if Paladino were to win the Republican primary, that would likely prompt Democrat Cuomo to spend a little more of his vast campaign war chest.