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Israel Hires New Fundraising Consultant, Finishes Quarter $500K Behind Gillibrand

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who continues to contemplate a 2010 Democratic primary challenge to newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), reported late Wednesday that he had about $1.7 million in his campaign account as of March 31, about $500,000 less than Gillibrand.Israel, a five-term Congressman from Long Island, raised $280,000 in the first three months of the year and banked more than $1.7 million. Gillibrand, by contrast, raised an eye-popping $2.3 million during the same period, closing March with $2.2 million in her campaign account.But in a sign that Israel continues to seriously ponder a statewide bid, this week he hired a New York-based fundraising consultant who has raised money for the statewide bids of Gov. David Paterson (D) and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D). The fundraising consultant, Lisa Hernandez Gioia, is married to New York City Councilman Eric Gioia (D), who is running this year for New York City public advocate, the No. 2 position in city government.Paterson’s decision to tap Gillibrand for the Senate seat that had been held by now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has sparked a flurry of political activity, and at least a half dozen Democrats are contemplating a primary challenge to the new Senator. In addition to Israel, the list includes Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Carolyn McCarthy, Jerrold Nadler and José Serrano, Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.As of late Wednesday, McCarthy reported raising $150,000 in the first three months of the year and banking $262,000; Nadler raised $103,000 and finished the period with $915,000 in campaign cash. Maloney and Serrano were due to file their quarterly campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.On the Republican side, Rep. Peter King and former New York Gov. George Pataki have spoken to the National Republican Senatorial Committee about a possible 2010 Senate bid. King reported Wednesday that he raised $131,000 in the first three months of the year, and finished March with more than $1.1 million in his campaign account.

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