As voters in New York State brace for what analysts have described as the tightest guberna- torial campaign in the state in years, community bankers are keeping an iron-fisted grip on their money -- even as they lobby hard for changes in state laws.

Instead of throwing money at the high-profile gubernatorial candidates -- Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo and Republican challenger state Sen. George Pataki -- big and small banks are going to key lawmakers who sit on banking committees, according to a survey by American Banker of campaign finance reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections.

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