WHATTA GUY, $AYS STATE GOP

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Determined to cling to its majority in the state Senate, the Republican machine revved into top gear in the final days leading up to Election Day, post-election financial disclosure forms show. In the two weeks before the election, the party pushed almost $5 million into legislative contests statewide.

Among the top beneficiaries of GOP largesse was the Bronx’s own state Senator Guy Velella. The party spent more than $750,000 on Velella, an Albany fixture for three decades. This year, the Senator faced one of the toughest political challenges of his career as charges of corruption and graft cast a pall over his re-election effort.

Financial disclosure forms reveal the GOP was clearly nervous–the senate campaign committee infused $200,000 directly into Velella’s war chest a week before Election Day and spent a whopping $560,000 on his ads and other publicity, more than on any other candidate.

“The GOP clearly thought Velella was at risk,” observed Blair Horner, who monitors state campaign contributions for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

But in the end, Velella soundly thrashed opponent Lorraine Koppell, winning with a margin of 3-1. “It certainly helped me buy television time and hand out literature,” said Velella, adding dryly: “But 28 years of service and doing favors for people must have also helped in some way.”

Now, it appears that the GOP misread the tea leaves–the weaker incumbent was apparently Roy Goodman, the popular Republican senator from the Upper East Side, who is now locked in the city’s own version of the Gore-Bush debacle. (Absentee ballots are still being tallied in the race between Goodman and his opponent, Liz Krueger.)

The GOP did not spend any substantial money on Goodman, instead relying on the senator’s own phenomenal fundraising skills: In little over a week leading up to the election Goodman raised almost $160,000. Goodman’s total election bill is expected to come to a whopping $1.5 million.