Mike Hein, Democratic candidate for Ulster County Executive continues to far outpace Len Bernardo – the Independence Party member who has been tapped as a stand-in by Republicans – in key measures of support.
According to recent campaign disclosures barely 100 individuals have contributed to Bernardo’s campaign. Those donors gave a total of only about $32,000, with $5,000 coming from a single donor in New Mexico. Democrat Mike Hein, on the other hand, has more than three-times as many donors, forming a much broader base of support.
Bernardo’s anemic fundraising would severely constrain the campaign of a middle-class candidate; however, Bernardo has been able to tap his personal wealth to fund his quest for the top job in Ulster County. Bernardo has more than made up for his lack of popularity by simply loaning his campaign more than an astounding $100,000. At a time when many residents of Ulster County are struggling to buy fuel oil for the winter and pay their monthly bills, Bernardo has the luxury of buying the most powerful job in the County.
Democratic County Chairman Julian Schreibman said: “Mike Hein has been a dedicated public servant for years. He and his supporters have had to work extraordinarily hard to raise money to make his message heard. But so long as Len Bernardo can write checks to his campaign for tens of thousands of dollars, his lone voice threatens to drown out those of the middle and working class citizens who want real progress for Ulster County.”
James Quigley, Republican candidate for Ulster County Comptroller has upped the ante on Bernardo: Quigley hasn’t even bothered to accept donations, excusing himself from one of the most challenging parts of running for office. Easy for him to do. Quigley has bank-rolled the Republican Party and Republican causes for years – including opposition to the Charter. Whenever his campaign needs money, he just drops in several thousand dollars more, including $35,000 in the month of October alone. Quigley has said he will donate his salary to charity – but it looks like one of his favorite charities is the Republican Party.
Bernardo and Quigley thus make up an extraordinarily privileged slate of candidates. Is there room for leadership in our public sphere for people of modest means? When only the wealthy run the government, the government will be run for the benefit of the wealthy. The Republican candidates can afford to run a luxurious race of glossy brochures and costly advertisements. But can the citizens of Ulster County really afford to elect two men who are so far removed from the concerns of real working people in our community?