Lawyer and former prosecutor George Demos has a lot of personal wealth. State Senator Lee Zeldin has the politically established, big money donors.
According to disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission Demos didn't raise any money this year on Long Island. In fact, his entire campaign war chest has only about $8,000 of on-Island money.
You can trace most of Demos' funds back to his father-in-law, either from fund-raising circles in California or from personal wealth gained after Demos married two years ago. This has brought accusations from Zeldin's camp, which calls Demos a "trojan horse" because Demos' new father-in-law is a Democrat and a financial backer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Demos responded that Zeldin's accusations are quote "bizarre," but declined to elaborate.
Zeldin's money is a mixed bag of large donations from PACs like Citizens United and the donors that typical Republicans turn to: wealthy businessmen and women in New York City and Long Island who give every election cycle to any Republicans.
About 80% of Zeldin's money comes from New York state.
Peculiar to Zeldin's filings were the large number of corporations that donated. Typically corporations are forbidden from directly funding political campaigns unless they have a specific status with the IRS.
Zeldin's campaign says they comply with all federal election laws.
"It's green, the banks take it"
Zeldin’s homegrown support might seem advantageous against Demos’ self funding, but right-leaning pollster Mike Dawidziak says it hardly matters where the money is from.
"Rockefeller spent his own money, Lautenberg spent his own money, Bloomberg spent his own money. And guess what? They got elected."
Dawidziak says Demos' aggressive spending on TV, radio, and direct mail could trump any "homegrown support" Zeldin may have.
So far this year Demos has spent more than $750-thousand on advertising compared to Zeldin's mere $20-thousand.