9:45 am Jan. 31, 2012
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand raised $1.8 million dollars in the fourth quarter, bringing her total cash on hand to $8.1 million dollars.
Gillibrand will report $10.2 million in total receipts for the year, when her campaign files its year-end report to the Federal Election Commission this afternoon, according to a source with the campaign.
The filing comes as Gillibrand faces two potential Republican candidates, each willing to self-fund a large portion of the race. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos has pledged to spend up to $5 million on the race, and internet entrepreneur and anti-tax activist Marc Cenedella, who has not yet declared for the race, has floated a $15 million figure in meetings with party leaders.
Gillibrand's $1.8 million in the fourth quarter, typically considered the fallow season for fund-raising, is only slightly less than the $1.9 million she raised in the third quarter, and adds another million to the $7.1 million she had on hand at the end of September.
Gillibrand's almost Schumeresque fund-raising ability is one of her strengths, and helped discourage a slew of potential challengers to her in 2010, when she raised $13.4 million for her first statewide race.
But Republicans continue to insist Gillibrand is a vulnerable target, pointing to a recent Marist poll that showed 38 percent of New Yorkers plan to vote for her re-election, with 40 percent saying her performance in office has been above average.
That number is substantially lower than a recent Siena poll, in which 53 percent said they plan to vote for her and 49 percent had a favorable opinion of her, and a Quinnipiac poll which gave her a 50 percent approval rating.
Asked about a head-to-head match-up with Maragos, Siena reported that 63 percent would vote for Gillibrand to just 22 percent for Maragos. (She did similarly well against Harry Wilson, who narrowly lost a race for state comptroller last year, though Wilson has all but ruled out running against her.)
The big question is whether today's filing will discourage Cenedella, who has yet to declare for the race and whose proto-campaign spent last week dealing with some news of some salacious blog posts from his past. Cenedella has said he will announce his intentions "soon enough."
Gillibrand, for her part, has already started raising for the next quarter, using Cenedella's past as a prompt.
UPDATE: "Her numbers will not affect his decision," said Cenedella spokesman Bill O'Reilly in an email. "Kirsten Gillibrand is always fundraising. Virtually every email she sends is a not-so-artfully masqued appeal for cash. Anyone who runs against her will know, as a given, that she will be well funded. She is a favorite of the Washington money types."
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