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Messina hasn't yet raised any money

They say money isn't everything.

In a political campaign, however, it certainly helps.

The first major financial filings in the 2009 Bethlehem town races are in and show that incumbent Democratic Supervisor Jack Cunningham has raised over $20,000 since the beginning of the year.

Independence Party Councilman Sam Messina has yet to raise any money in his bid to unseat Cunningham.

The deadline for filing financial disclosure reports to the state or county board of elections was on July 15. Because Messina has not collected any money, his campaign Friends of Sam Messina, is well below the threshold to report financial activity to the board of elections.

"If it's under $1,000 he doesn't have to file anything with us and if it's under $50 he doesn't have to file with the county's board of elections," said John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections.

Conklin said not even a "no activity" filing is necessary if it is under the state mandated thresholds. Messina told The Spotlight that after a computer software problem his campaign's treasurer John Smolinsky manually filed his financial disclosure reports to the board of election.

The state's board of elections Web site states a total contribution balance of "$0.00" for Messina.

"I've spend a little over $1,000 of total expenditures so far, namely on my Web site and palm cards," Messina said. "From my understanding this should be reported on my next financial disclosure statement."

Cunningham held a well-attended campaign kickoff and fundraiser at the Normanside Country Club when he announced his intentions to run for re-election in March. His campaign said it anticipates holding several more fundraising events as well.

Messina has not held a fundraiser to date, but said some are in the works.

"I have raised no money but I'm going to have a couple of major fundraisers," he said. "I plain to have one at my home in mid-August and one with the community at a restaurant in mid-October."

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