ALBANY - Of the eight or so Republican-held Senate seats that Democrats are mounting serious campaigns for this year, Suffolk County Water Authority chair James Gaughran's campaign against eleven-term incumbent Carl Marcellino seems like one of the longest shots.
The seat - which contains northeastern Nassau and northwestern Suffolk - has been in Republic hands for the entirety of the time since Long Island's population boomed after World War II. Marcellino has easily withstood challenges in the past, beating each of his past four opponents by at least 19 points. And Republican head-of-ticket Donald Trump has been effectively tied with Hillary Clinton in New York City's suburbs in several recent polls, reducing the likelihood of Democrats' hopes for an unprecedented turnout advantage.
But both sides appear to be taking the race seriously, at least according to campaign finance disclosure reports submitted to the state Board of Elections.
Marcellino has spent $97,554 since mid-July, most of which went toward a $60,000 transfer to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee to pay for campaign mailings.
This is more than he's spent in the twelve weeks preceding this early-October filing period since 2004, when he was running against an aggressive opponent bolstered by Tom Suozzi's Fix Albany campaign and dropped $340,749. In the five races since, he spent an average of $38,130 during this time. (Marcellino wound up winning that 2004 race by 15 points).
He didn't engage in a ton of fundraising this period, bringing in $26,480 from donors such as local realtor John Gutleber ($7,500) and the Nassau County PBA ($3,000). Marcellino has $209,637 left in the bank.
Gaughran, meanwhile, raised $76,517, spent $120,191, and has $37,876 left in his account.
His donors included Rechler Equity Partners ($10,000), Sen. Liz Krueger's No Bad Apples PAC ($2,500) and Nassau Democratic chair Jay Jacobs ($11,000).
Gaughran also recently picked up the financial support of the Communication Workers of America in recent weeks. He's one of three beneficiaries of $235,252 in spending made by the union's independent expenditure committee since late September.
This isn't the first time Gaughran has run for the seat: In 1992, he mounted a "strong challenge" against then-Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino, only to lose by 20 points.