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Sep 18, 2018 1:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Primary Was Costly, But Democrats Have Plenty Of Cash Left Over For Next Campaign

Sep 18, 2018 2:57 PM

David Lys will start off the campaign for election to the Town Board with a solid financial foundation, thanks to robust fundraising by the Democratic Party Committee in the run-up to last week’s primary vote.

The Friends of David Lys, the campaign committee set up by Democratic leadership to support the party’s nominee for this year’s special election, has already banked more than $100,000 in contributions and has more than $60,000 on hand going into the general election.

As of September 3, the campaign had spent more than $21,000, and the Democrats’ longtime campaign chairman, Chris Kelley, said last week that spending on the primary likely would be between $30,000 and $40,000—solely on Mr. Lys.

Yet the committee’s spending on the primary paled in comparison to the funding that Mr. Lys’s opponent, David Gruber, poured into his own campaign. Mr. Gruber gave nearly $75,000 of his own money to the Reform Democrats, the campaign committee he formed with a splinter group of Democratic Committee members.

As of the September 3 disclosure filings, Mr. Gruber was essentially the only contributor to the Reform Democrats—other than co-founder Ilissa Meyer’s $100 opening deposit to create the account. Mr. Gruber gave $20,000 lump contributions to the account twice, $5,000 another time, and spent more than $27,000 of his own money on various campaign expenses.

Mr. Gruber said this week that he is still totaling the final expenses of the Reform Democrats campaign, which must be reported in disclosure filings next week.

With 51 days until the general election, Mr. Lys’s opponent, Manny Vilar, and the town’s Republican Party will have a lot of fundraising to do to keep pace with the Democratic juggernaut.

As of the end of July, Mr. Vilar had just under $20,000 available to him—about $10,500 of which came from the dormant campaign fund of former Supervisor William Wilkinson.

Because there was no Republican primary this year, the party has not had to file any financial disclosures since then, and Republican Party Chairman Amos Goodman would not be specific about how much it has raised or spent in the interim. The next mandatory filing date is 32 days before the general election.

“Since our last report in July, our fundraising has been very robust,” Mr. Goodman said. “The party has raised and spent considerable funds in support of Mr. Vilar’s election and will continue to do so.”

Mr. Goodman said the party has also created a “housekeeping” account, which will raise and spend money throughout the year to support and help the Republican Party in general, without being earmarked for a given candidate or campaign.

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