Fiala AksharDespite raising just a third of what her opponent has, and in the face of a 28-point trail in the latest Siena Poll, Democrat Barbara Fiala says she’s “looking forward to a win next week” for the 52nd Senate District.

Speaking before a public debate at the Binghamton Rotary Club Tuesday, Fiala told reporters that despite her endorsement from Governor Cuomo three months ago, she’s been able to maintain her roots in the Southern Tier.

“I’m proud of the campaign, grassroots campaign, you know, pleased with the donations,” Fiala said. “No big money from Albany. I was independent when I started this, and I’m still independent.”

She’s right – the only donation to Fiala that could be considered ‘big money from Albany’ would be an $11,000 contribution from Governor Cuomo last week. That’s little compared to the $267,000 given to her opponent Fred Akshar from the NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee over the course of his campaign.

“Money didn’t fall from the sky, as it did my opponent,” Fiala said. “He’s already been bought and packaged and delivered to Albany. He’s already done that. They don’t invest a half a million dollars in somebody just because they like you. They expect something in return. I did not receive a half a million dollars from the State Democratic Committee.”

She’s right, again. In fact, Fiala did not receive any financial support from the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. Despite that loss, Fiala says she would be able to make progress in Albany for the Southern Tier.

“I know Albany. I have the governor supporting me, so I would be able to ask him to shake the money tree and bring more money to [the 52nd District],” Fiala said.

That could be difficult for Fiala if she continues to oppose one of the governor’s top initiatives: a $15 minimum wage. During the debate, Fiala said she would rather see $10 to $10.25 for an area like the Southern Tier.

“$15 an hour downstate is completely different than $15 an hour in the 52nd District. That’s not reasonable,” Fiala said. “I would propose $10 to $10.25 because that would lift a great majority of New Yorkers out of the poverty level including those in the 52nd Senate District.”

Akshar also remains opposed to a large hike in the state’s minimum wage, but speaks to poverty in the Southern Tier from a different perspective.

“I think it bodes a bigger question. We should be concerned that everybody earns a fair living wage,” Akshar said, “but we should also put forth a very aggressive and comprehensive plan to ensure that everybody has great paying jobs, not just minimum wage paying jobs.”

If you drive around the Southern Tier (this producer had the opportunity to earlier this month), you will notice that support for Fred Akshar is overwhelming over his Democratic opponent. Yard signs flurry the region, as well as banners in favor of the Republican opponent. But Akshar says he isn’t letting off steam anytime soon.

“Nothing is obvious and I’m taking nothing for granted,” Akshar said. “The people of this district deserve somebody who’s going to work hard each and every day.”

Of course, it helps to have the resources to mount a campaign like Akshar has. He told reporters after the debate that he’s taken the appropriate steps to fill the vacant senate seat.

“I am very proud as I stand here today about the level of support we’ve received over the last three months,” Akshar said. “It’s clear to me that my message is resonating not only with the people of this district, but with people throughout the state.”

If Akshar wins the 52nd Senate District, Republicans will remain firmly in the majority of the State Senate until next November, when Democrats are expected to front a powerful challenge during a presidential election year.