State Senate G.O.P. prepares to lose its biggest donor

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ALBANY—What will they do without Michael Bloomberg's money?

The billionaire mayor, whose term on New York's political stage will expire at the end of the year, has been a major benefactor of several local Republican fund-raising committees—including the soft-money “housekeeping” account that supports G.O.P. efforts to gain and maintain power in the State Senate.

Bloomberg gave a record $1 million to the Senate Republican Campaign Commitee in 2012, as it fell just short in its efforts to hold onto the majority. He donated another million dollars in previous election cycles, a general contribution that came on top of checks to marginal G.O.P. members from Frank Padavan to Roy McDonald, to whom he maxed out after McDonald became one of four Republicans to buck party lines and support same-sex marriage, a Bloomberg priority.

(Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, has also given to Democrats, but in smaller amounts.)

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“I'm not worried about it,” said Senator Cathy Young of Olean, who chairs the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. “We've always had a very positive relationship with Mayor Bloomberg and I expect it would continue.”

But Bloomberg aides didn't make any guarantees, suggesting instead that the media tycoon—whose next professional iteration may take him back to his eponymous company, leading its opinion division—would only shell out for candidates who back him on pet issues, such as gun control.

“Mayor Bloomberg has always said that he will support candidates that he believes in and stand up for what is right,” said Mark Botnick, a spokesman.

Democrats hoping to win back the Senate are already celebrating the Republicans' coming loss, with the expiration of Bloomberg's institutional need to maintain good relations with a conference that has so much say over New York City's affairs.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a socially conservative group, thinks the relationship between Senate Republicans and Bloomberg is coming to an end, and that that's a good thing. 

“As we see that the Republican Party has by and large chased after the dollars Mayor Bloomberg has brought, it has forced them to move away from a position of their base," said Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of the group. "Now they're going to suffer for it: Mayor Bloomberg is going to withdraw the payment, but they've already lost their base."

Bloomberg also bankrolled several county-level Republican organizations in the five boroughs of New York City as he sought the G.O.P. line in the 2009, and also gave $175,000 to the Republican State Committee in 2006 and 2007. New York GOP chairman Ed Cox wasn't concerned with Bloomberg's potential exit from his donor list, he said at a fundraiser in September.

“I understand that, but I'm not worried,” Cox said at the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in suburban Albany. “Even when we were out of power in the 2009-10 campaign — even when we had no position of power in the state, or in statewide office … the money came to us. Why? Because we had the principles.”