Former Riverhead supervisor Phil Cardinale hints at state run

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | With $20,000 in his campaign fund, former supervisor Phil Cardinale isn't ruling out a run for state office.

Despite being outspent by more than $55,000 in his latest race, former Riverhead supervisor Phil Cardinale still has more than $20,000 in his campaign coffers.

And he’s not ruling out spending that money on a future run for office.

While he says his days in Riverhead Town Hall are behind him, Mr. Cardinale said he might set his sights on Albany in the future.

“I’m not satisfied with our representation at the state level,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Mr. Cardinale, a Democrat, said he has no plans to screen with committees for a shot against Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) or Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) this year. But he said one of those two offices might be the next logical step for a return to public office.

“I’m going to take a cycle off,” he said. “But it’s possible I’d look to run again. I will not run for local office though.”

Mr. Cardinale spent just over $37,000 in a losing 2011 campaign against current Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. That’s virtually the same amount he spent when he was unseated by Mr. Walter in 2009.

Mr. Walter outspent Mr. Cardinale in both contests, dropping more than $94,000 on his re-election after spending about $38,000 in 2009.

While Mr. Walter left his campaign committee with a balance of just $32, according to his January filing with the New York State Board of Elections, Mr. Cardinale reported a campaign balance of nearly $21,000 last month.

“I spent what I thought was necessary to win,” Mr. Cardinale said. “I end every campaign with some money.”

In January 2010, the month he left office, Mr. Cardinale’s campaign committee reported a balance of more than $37,000, meaning he had spent only about half of what he had in a campaign that saw him come up just 249 votes short.

“I don’t spend for the sake of spending,” he said. “That’s just how I am. I always have money in my savings at home, as well as with my political finance committee.”

He said one reason he had so much money left over this time around was that his campaign had opted not to spend on television advertising or polling.

Should he consider a future run for state office, $21,000 would be a fairly lofty starting point. The two Democrats to lose a bid for state office in Mr. Cardinale’s district in 2010, Marc Alessi and Jennifer Maertz, each reported having less than $2,500 in their final campaign finance filings for that year’s election.

Ms. Maertz has already announced her candidacy to run against Mr. LaValle again this year.

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