Gianaris sets record for funds in state race

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Just seven weeks after receiving the Queens Democratic Party's endorsement for the state Assembly seat in Astoria, Michael Gianaris has set a fund-raising record for the district in his primary race against Kimon Thermos, the state Board of Elections said this week.

Gianaris has raised $102,348, breaking the previous record of $63,000 set by Thermos in his previous election campaign, said Evan Stavisky, a spokesman for the Gianaris campaign.

Gianaris, 30, who called money, "a necessary evil in modern politics" at a fund-raiser July 12 at Riccardo's in Astoria, was the recipient of another fund-raiser July 17 at the Taverna Draka restaurant in Astoria.

According to filings made available by the Board of Elections, Gianaris has raised nearly $45,000 more than Thermos, 34, who announced his candidacy in April at the Aldos Independent Democratic Club in Astoria.

Thermos had prepared to run against retiring incumbent Denis Butler (D-Long Island City) for a fourth consecutive time after losing three previous times in 1994, 1996 and 1998 by fewer than 250 votes.

Thermos may also face an uphill battle for political ads because he has only $23,557 remaining in his campaign budget, compared to $88,705 for Gianaris.

Stavisky said the Gianaris campaign is planning to spend between $150,000 and $200,000 on the campaign. Thermos, on the other hand, said he plans on raising $100,000 for his campaign.

Gianaris has no doubt been helped in his election campaign for the 36th Assembly District seat by his association with the retiring incumbent for whom he used to work. Butler said he will become a partner in Butler Public Relations, a Manhattan-based public relations and marketing firm headed by his son, Thomas.

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), Queens County Democratic Chairman Thomas Manton, state Sen. George Onorato (D-Long Island City), and Queensborough President Claire Shulman are among the Democratic leaders who are giving their support to the first-time candidate.

Gianaris, who attended Long Island City High School, graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from Fordham University, before receiving his law degree from Harvard law School.

He began his career in public service as an aide to Manton, and later served as former Gov. Mario Cuomo's Queens County representative. He currently serves as associate counsel to the New York State Assembly and has served as counsel to the Assembly's Standing Committees on Governmental Operation, Consumer Protection and Veteran's affairs.

Thermos, a graduate of St. John's University Law School, is the president of the Aldos Independent Democratic Club and a board member and legal counsel to the Greek-American Homeowners Association. He is also an original task force supervisor for the Anti-Graffiti/Second Chance Program, which gives youthful offenders a second chance for reform prior to hard sentencing.

He began his career in public service as a senior court attorney to two Civil Court judges. From 1991 to 1992, he worked under Judge Evelyn Braun and in 1993 he worked under Judge Frederick Schmidt.

Both candidates oppose the increased number of flights from LaGuardia Airport, new power plant construction before the older ones are cleaned up, and support efforts to alleviate severe overcrowding problems in School District 30.

"I want to thank my many friends and supporters, including the many residents of Astoria, who have joined me in my campaign for the Assembly," Gianaris said in a press release Monday. "I will continue to run a positive campaign focused on issues that concern us all: fighting for lower prescription drug costs, increasing educational funding to ease overcrowding in schools, and passing legislation to prevent the attack on our environment posed by the addition of power plants in Astoria."

Thermos, who said he did not have enough information to comment on Gianaris' fund-raising, said money is not everything in a campaign.

" A lot of factors go into a campaign, but I'm going to raise as much money as needed to win," he said. "He's got some endorsements, and I've got some endorsements, but we're going to continue to run a grassroots campaign, and continue going from door-to-door. I just want to thank my volunteers publicly for getting me on the ballot and supporting me."

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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