4:00 pm Mar. 30, 2012
A few dozen donors descended on former Manhattan County chair Jennifer Saul's home last night for Representative Bob Turner's first proper fund-raiser since becoming a Senate candidate two weeks ago.
The event was organized before Turner's district was effectively eliminated, which forced Turner to jump into the statewide Senate race and made for some "awkward" co-hosts on the original invitation.
The most obvious one, Conservative Party chairman Mike Long, who is now supporting Manhattan attorney Wendy Long against Turner in the Republican primary, wasn't in attendance, according to a few sources who were there. (A subsequent copy of the invitation excluded Mike Long, and the G.O.P. chair Ed Cox, who is staying neutral in the Senate race.)
But most of those listed were still supporting Turner's cause, including Juan Reyes, a partner at Reed Smith who was once the preferred candidate of Queens County for the special election nomination that eventually went to Turner.
Reyes, who is now serving on Turner's finance committee, told me there wasn't any tension among the attendees, who understand they'll need to unite to win a tough race for Republicans. He also said that Turner "gave a great speech."
One notable attendee, who wasn't on the invitation, was George Klein, a longtime Republican powerbroker and co-founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Klein was a supporter of Turner's House race last year.
Turner's entry into the Senate race two weeks ago didn't go ideally well: He barely qualified for the ballot in Rochester, and then saw the Conservative Party—led by his friend Michael Long—overwhelmingly nominate Wendy Long (no relation).
Long's campaign has said her ties to Republican activists could help make up any fund-raising gap with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign, which had $9 million on hand at the end of the year.
Turner has been aggressively reaching out to potential supporters since he entered the race, and is seeking to demonstrate that he's more connected to downstate donors and can substantially out-raise Long and a third candidate, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who has pledged $5 million of his own money to the race. But he'll have to do it fast: the filing deadline for the first quarter is tomorrow.
A spokesperson for Turner's campaign said she wasn't yet sure how much had been raised at the event last night.