Westmoreland commissioners better funded than GOP challengers, reports show
When it comes to cash available to spend in the months leading up to the November race for Westmoreland County Commissioner, Republicans Sean Kertes and Doug Chew are behind two Democratic incumbents.
According to latest finance reports that detail contributions and spending through the May primary, the Republicans’ bank rolls don’t compare to campaign war chests for Commissioners Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas.
Chew’s report, filed a day late last week and and subjected to a $20 fine, showed no money on hand following his successful campaign for one of two Republican nominations in the spring primary. According to his filing, Chew raised just more than $1,200 through donations and self-funded the bulk of his primary campaign through personal loans that totaled nearly $60,000.
Kertes, chief of staff to retiring Republican Commissioner Charles Anderson, spent a similar amount during the primary season, including more than $28,000 in the final two weeks of the campaign. Kertes has just $2,680 available in his campaign fund heading into the next phase of the race for county commissioner.
They were the top two vote-getters among a field of six GOP candidates this spring. They also topped the Republican field in spending. Candidate John Ventre, who like Chew self-funded the majority of his campaign, spent more than $47,000 in the primary.
“Money is a necessary evil when it comes to politics. My plan is to have close to $100,000 in the bank by September,” Kertes said.
Kertes was able to raise funds for the primary campaign as he received donations more than $55,000 from private contributors during late 2018 and through this spring. He also collected another $5,200 during the final two weeks ahead of the primary.
Chew did not seek donations in the spring but said he will hold several fundraisers to bolster his campaign account for the general election.
“I want to watch where the money comes from, and I’m not taking money from no-bid vendors, but I need money for advertising,” Chew said, noting that he will also use his own money for the campaign. “I will continue to invest in myself through the general election.”
Kertes and Chew did not campaign together in the spring and, so far, there no plans for them to consolidate efforts in the fall. Cerilli and Kopas also are expected to run independent campaigns.
Both incumbents were unopposed for Democratic nominations this spring.
Kopas will enter the general election campaign with more than $98,000 in the bank. Cerilli will have $40,000 at the start of the general election season.
“The majority of my expenses have already been made besides media. I’m anticipating to spend $75,000 on media and raising an additional $50,000 more,” Cerilli said.
According to her campaign reports, Cerilli spent more than $158,000 during the primary.
Kopas spent considerably less but still listed more than $43,000 in expenses through May.
“These races are getting increasingly more expensive as the demands for advertising is significant,” Kopas said. He declined to reveal any fundraising goals for the race.
This year’s spending is in line with what the candidates spent in 2015. Cerilli, then making her first bid for public office, spent nearly $300,000 and finished as the top vote-getter. Kopas that year won his second term in office, spending more than $235,000 during the race.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .