The Candidate’s Coffers: Murphy’s in the Money, Guadagno’s Struggling

Colleen O'Dea | October 13, 2017 | Elections 2017
With $5.4 million in hand, Murphy can easily outspend Guadagno, who has slightly less than $1 million available

Democrat Phil Murphy has raised three times the funds toward next month’s gubernatorial election as his Republican opponent Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and has nearly six times more money in the bank, according to their most recent campaign finance reports.

Released on Thursday, the reports cover the period following the primary through October 6 and were filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. They show Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and Wall Street executive, has raised $10.3 million and spent $4.8 million on the general election, leaving him with $5.4 million on hand. Murphy has already spent more than Guadagno has raised: She has received slightly less than $3 million in total and has spent more than $2 million of that, leaving her with $966,000 in the bank.

Public matches

Those totals include money the candidates have received from the state as public matches. On Thursday, ELEC gave Murphy another $1.1 million, bringing his total to $7.4 million, while Guadagno received $315,000, for a total of $2.1 million in public funds. Candidates can receive public funds as a 2-to-1 match, up to a maximum of $9.3 million, on all amounts below the $4,300 per contributor limit, provided the campaign provides complete information on the donors. Candidates receiving public funds may not spend more than $13.8 million on the general election.

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With three-and-a-half weeks left until election day, Murphy is getting close to maxing out his fundraising, while Guadagno continues to have trouble raising funds.

Fundraising has always been important to candidates running statewide in New Jersey, because they have to advertise in the expensive New York and Philadelphia markets.

“It’s really hard to get yourself known in New Jersey and money is the answer,” said Ben Dworkin, director of The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “If you do not have enough, you face a serious uphill battle in getting your message out. This is another wind she has to face at this point in the race.”
Guadagno spokesman Ricky Diaz brushed off the campaign’s fundraising deficit.

“We’re very confident,” he said. “If money won races, Hillary Clinton would be president.”

Independent committees

Additionally, four independent committees have spent a total of $2.6 million so far in the race either for or against the two major candidates.

Two committees supporting Murphy — New Start NJ (a committee created by Murphy in advance of his run) and the Committee to Build the Economy — have raised a combined $1.1 million and spent about $200,000 toward the general election, according to ELEC. Almost all contributions to New Start came from Murphy. New Start’s report was not available online on Thursday, but the Committee to Build the Economy’s report showed that the group’s funds had come half from unions. Garden State Forward, funded by the New Jersey Education Association, had given $500,000, while the committee of the Laborers Eastern Region and Unite Here TIP State and Local, whose New Jersey local represents casino hotel workers, gave $250,000 apiece. Most of CBE’s money was spent on research, planning, and management consultants, the report shows.

The governors associations of both parties have undertaken significant spending on attack ads. Our New Jersey, affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, has raised $825,000 and spent $800,000 so far, while The Republican Governors Association has spent $1.6 million and has not reported its receipts, which, by law, they do not have to disclose.

“Outdated state legislation lets independent groups avoid disclosing their contributions andand spending if they indirectly attack candidates by tying them to unpopular issues instead of directly urging voters to support or defeat candidates,” said ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle. “Both parties in New Jersey have introduced legislation that would close this loophole. But voters will have to wait at least until the next statewide election before they benefit from such a reform. With independent spending becoming a dominant force in national, state, and even local races, disclosure by independent groups is more urgent than ever.”

The Republican Governors Association has so far funded three ads, two criticizing Murphy for his plan to raise taxes — which a Murphy spokesman has said will total $1.3 billion on millionaires, hedge fund managers, large corporations, and legalized marijuana — and the third for his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

And Our New Jersey, affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, has paid for ads tying Guadagno to the unpopular Gov. Chris Christie, with whom she has served since he first took office nearly eight years ago.

More than 1,500 individuals, businesses, and committees have given to Murphy so far, according to his general election filing, with 372 of those contributing the maximum $4,300. More than 80 percent of his contributors were individuals. For those specifying an occupation, attorneys were the most common, making up close to 6 percent of donors, although there was a slightly higher percentage of those who indicated they were retired.

Murphy’s greatest spending has been on media, including on Internet advertising, eating up more than half of his expenditures. His largest payments — $1.6 million — have gone to 4CM&M, which has an office in New Brunswick and whose principals include two men well-known in New Jersey Democratic campaign circles, Steve DeMicco and Brad Lawrence.

Guadagno’s report lists 540 general election contributors, 153 of whom gave the maximum amount. Like Murphy, more than eight in 10 donors to her campaign are individuals. Management, administrative and executive employees comprise her largest group of donors — more than 20 percent of all.
The largest chunk of her spending for the general election has been on cable TV advertising, for a total of nearly $1 million, or 42 percent of the total. Her main media consultant is Jamestown Associates, headed by Larry Weitzner, who is no stranger in New Jersey, having worked with Christie and congressional representatives past and present. Weitzner was also the lead ad maker for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Three of five independent candidates for governor also filed reports. The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, representing the Green Party, reported raising almost $90,000 and currently shows a deficit of about $1,500. Gina Genovese, running under the slogan “Reduce Property Taxes,” had $6,725 cash on hand after spending some $43,000. Libertarian Peter Rohrman raised $7,390 and had $1,820 in the bank.

In total, all the candidates have raised about $13.4 million, with independent committee money bringing that to $15.3 million. Total spending by candidates and committees equaled $9.6 million.

This is just a fraction of the amounts raised and spent during the primary and in the period before that. Including independent spending, there were 11 candidates, but the larger number was primarily not the reason why the total spent topped $43 million. Murphy largely self-financed his primary run and did not limit his spending or accept public financing, as he did in the general election. His own campaign and two committees backing him spent close to $28 million.