Dark money, money from billionaires and money from unions with very different policy goals are flooding into state Senate races across New York.
Board of Elections filings show campaign spending from independent expenditure committees backed by billionaire cosmetics executive Ron Lauder, police unions and a Virginia-based entity are spendily heavily to support Republican candidates running in key suburban and upstate races this year.
Democrats are also getting support from a committee backed by the New York State United Teachers union.
But as Republicans seek to regain power after fully entering the political wilderness statewide in 2018, much of the spending is going toward GOP candidates in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island, recent filings show.
Republicans lost control of the chamber for the first time in a decade in 2018, giving Democrats full control of the Legislature. Democrats won swing districts on Long Island and the Hudson Valley and hold a potentially commanding majority that will be difficult for GOP candidates to overcome.
Longtime incumbent Republicans, too, are retiring this cycle or have already stepped down, including former Minority Leader John Flanagan.
Still, the stakes are high for both parties ahead of the coming round of legislative redistricting set for 2022.
Lauder, the billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder Companies, has so far this month transferred $2.3 million to a group airing TV and web ads opposing Senate Democratic incumbents on Long Island and in central New York.
A group called Good Government for New York, backed by a Virginia-based entity supportive of Republican candidates nationwide, is spending $337,000 on TV ads to oppose the re-election of Democrat Jen Metzger to her Hudson Valley district. She faces Republican Mike Martucci.
"Our mission is to stop the extreme left from gaining these footholds and to support pro-growth candidates who are committed to limited government, economic growth and law-and-order," the group states on its websit.
And last week, the Police Benevolent Association of NYC transferred $1 million to its independent expenditure committee after announcing it plans to run a coordinated effort to oust Democrats in the chamber.
Motivating PBAs in large part were a package of criminal justice law changes this year, including a repeal of a law that shielded police disciplinary records from being made public.
More modestly, a group backed by the statewide teachers umbrella labor group has started mailings on behalf of Democratic incumbents.
But the spending by independent expenditures, where the donations are unlimited and can go far in relatively inexpensive media markets to target specific voters, is balancing out a lopsided money race for Republicans and Democrats.
Money often follows power, and Albany is little exception.
The fundraising arm of the Senate Democrats reported $2.7 million in cash on hand this month, outpacing a once-vaunted fundraising machine for Senate Republicans.
The Senate GOP's campaign committee reported $977,808 in the bank.
Spending has also been a world of difference. Republicans spent $442,137 from their conference account, according to their most recent filing, after raising $669,876.
Democrats, meanwhile, have raised $961,850 and spent $3.8 million during that same time period.