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Campaign spending in New Jersey’s gubernatorial primary continues to approach record-breaking territory, with the 11 major party candidates having raised almost $32 million with two weeks to go before the primary — according to data filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
to search an interactive database of contributors to the major primary candidates and the amounts they gave.
The 11-day pre-election reports filed with ELEC, which cover campaign financial activity through May 23, show that the candidates had, ranking this as among the most expensive primaries in state history. Including the $8.8 million spent by nine super PACs backing some of the candidates — including two who did not enter the race — brings the total spent to almost $37 million.
“If you combine candidate and independent spending, this year’s primary already has cost nearly $37 million. That tops all but two previous gubernatorial primary campaigns,” said ELEC executive director Jeffrey Brindle. “This year’s campaign isn’t over.”
Democratic frontrunner Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served as ambassador to Germany under President Barack Obama, continues to dominate the field. The nearly $21.2 million he has raised — including more than $16.4 million he has given his own campaign — represents two-thirds of all the money raised to date. Another $5.3 million was raised by super PACs affiliated with or supporting him.
Murphy has spent most of his campaign money, $20.1 million, with the largest chunk – 43 percent – going for television ads. Still, he had the most cash on hand for the final stretch of the campaign: almost $1.1 million.
Among the Democrats, former US treasury undersecretary Jim Johnson had the second-largest war chest left, with about $769,000. He has also raised and spent the second most, having raised $2.6 million and spent $1.8 million. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a lawyer from Middlesex County, had raised $1.7 million and had about $109,000 left. Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a Union County lawyer, raised $536,000 and had $113,000 on hand.
On the Republican side, Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno has outraised her chief rival Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset County by nearly 2-to-1. Guadagno has taken in almost $2.9 million and had $867,000 left as of Mary 23. Ciattarelli raised nearly $1.6 million and had $169,000 in the bank. Hirsh Singh, an engineer running for office for the first time, had raised $1 million, with about $361,000 left.
The totals for Democrats Johnson and Wisniewski and Republicans Guadagno and Ciattarelli includeon a $2 for every $1 raised basis. So far, the state has paid out almost $5.9 million in matching funds to the four candidates. Lesniak and Singh both raised the $430,000 required to qualify, but neither has yet received any. Murphy chose not to take matching funds during the primary and limit himself to spending $6.4 million.
He does plan to take matching funds and cap his spending at $13.8 million for the general election. While he recently faced criticism from his opponents for that, it is a decision made early on in his campaign: Murphy’s campaign filed papers with ELEC in June 2016 setting up a general election matching funds account, similar to what Gov. Chris Christie did when he first ran in 2009. Murphy had $127,500 in that account as of the end of March, according to a report filed with ELEC.
A look at the areas that were most generous to the candidates is a bit misleading for some due to self-funding. For instance, the Red Bank ZIP code of 07701 seems to be the most generous, but that’s the ZIP code of Murphy’s business, which is the address given for the money he gave his campaign. Similarly, the Elizabeth ZIP code of 07208 appears to be the second most generous, but that is largely because it shows where Lesniak gave his campaign $540,000. That makes Montclair’s 07042 number one, with $144,340 in contributions that include $15,000 from Johnson to his campaign.
All told, roughly three-quarters of the amount raised by all candidates through May 23 came from New Jersey.
The fundraising has not stopped. Any money the candidates take in now must beon forms filed with ELEC.