Candidates in the upcoming primary for New Jersey’s 12 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives have already spent more than $8 million, as the race in northwest Jersey’s 5th District is shaping up to be the most expensive in the state.
The spending picture in the race for the Senate seat held by Democrat Bob Menendez is murkier, as the Federal Election Commission so far has only posted the incumbent’s first quarter report. Menendez is fighting off a harsh attack from GOP frontrunner Bob Hugin, who accuses his opponent of being corrupt. Both men are expected to spend lavishly on their campaigns.
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With two retirements leaving vacancies and the “resistance” movement energizing more than a dozen Democratic challengers, fears have been fueled among Republicans that the state will be swamped by a “blue wave.” Thus, it is not surprising that this year’s races are already proving expensive. The 33 House contenders who filed first-quarter reports with the FEC have so far raised $20.6 million and have nearly $16 million in the bank for the last seven weeks of the campaign.
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The top fundraiser
New Jersey’s leading fundraiser is Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5). The freshman representing a traditionally red district had taken in $3.7 million and spent $529,000 through March 31 and had $3.3 million in the bank. His fundraising total was the 13th highest of all House candidates across the country, fifth highest among all Democrats, FEC data shows. At the moment, the Cook Political Report rates the district as likely staying Democratic, but given the past voting record of residents, Gottheimer is taking no chances and wants to have enough money to run a strong campaign, including advertising in the expensive New York market.
The 5th district is so far the best financed in the state. Gottheimer has no primary opponent. Two Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination and of the two, Steve Lonegan is the frontrunner, having raised $1.3 million — including $1 million he loaned his own campaign — and spent $638,000. The ultraconservative Lonegan has run for numerous offices, the last being the 3rd District seat in South Jersey now held by Tom MacArthur. Reports show that Lonegan’s primary opponent John McCann has $114,000 in the bank, compared with Lonegan’s $708,000.
The second most expensive race so far is north Jersey’s 11th, where Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen’s retirement has left an open seat. Democrats were already targeting that district and the formerly safe red district is now considered a tossup. There are 10 candidates on the ballot, five Republicans and five Democrats, and they had raised $3.3 million and spent $1.2 million, leaving $2.2 million in the bank through March 31. The wealthiest candidate is Democrat Mikie Sherrill of Montclair, who had raised $2.3 million and spent $685,000. Republicans got a late start, with Frelinghuysen not announcing his retirement until late January, but leading the pack is Sen. Jay Webber of Parsippany, with a $221,000 warchest.
Republicans at risk?
Two other districts where candidates have raised substantial amounts are ones where the Republican incumbents’ chances of re-election are less than a foregone conclusion.
In the 7th District in central Jersey, Rep. Leonard Lance faces two primary challengers and three Democrats are vying for the right to try to unseat him. The district, which voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, is rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report. Lance had raised $1.1 million through March 31. Close behind was Democratic frontrunner Tom Malinowski, who had taken in slightly more than $1 million. In total, the six candidates had nearly $2 million in the bank at the end of the first quarter.
MacArthur’s 3rd District is rated leaning Republican and he is taking no chances in an effort to keep his seat, having raised $1.8 million. He faces token opposition from Martin Weber in the primary — Weber had no report on file with the FEC. But Democrat Andy Kim, running unopposed in the primary, had taken in more than $1 million himself and had $815,000 in the bank.
The other open seat in South Jersey’s sprawling 2nd District ranks near the bottom in terms of fundraising. Through currently held by Republican Frank LoBiondo, who is retiring, Cook predicts this seat will likely swing Democratic. Four Democrats and five Republicans are vying in the primary. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, considered the Democratic frontrunner, had the largest coffers, having raised $489,000 with $456,000 still in the bank. Hirsh Singh, an unsuccessful gubernatorial hopeful last year, led all Republicans, having taken in $109,000, almost half of which was money he loaned his campaign.
In the Senate race, Menendez’s report shows he had raised $7.4 million and spent more than $4 million through March 31 and had $5.3 million on hand. As of Tuesday night, the FEC had no reports for his Democratic opponent Lisa McCormick or any of the five Republicans. Hugin, the Republican frontrunner, reportedly has loaned his campaign $7.5 million and raised another $352,000, according to Politico New Jersey. While Hugin’s campaign has publicly said nothing about his coffers, Menendez’s campaign boasted about the Senator’s fundraising prowess despite having spent much of his current term under the cloud of an ethics probe and an indictment, which resulted in a hung jury and dismissal of all charge.
“The strength of the Menendez for Senate campaign is unquestionable,” said Michael Soliman, the campaign chairman. “Senator Menendez has the support on the ground and the resources in the bank because the people of New Jersey know that he will always have their backs.”
Menendez has a comfortable 21-point lead over Hugin in the most recent Monmouth University Poll, released last week. Similarly, Monmouth found Democrats have a 19-point advantage over Republicans in generic House polling, the poll announced on Monday.
|Seat||Party||Candidate||Incumbent||Raised||Pct from indiv contribs||Spent||Cash on hand|
|Senate||D||Robert Menendez *||Yes||$7,409,182||95||$4,084,291||$5,347,189|
|1st District||D||Scot John Tomaszewski||$31,042||–||$31,042||$-|
|1st District||D||Donald W. Norcross *||Yes||$1,331,134||56||$600,312||$830,285|
|2nd District||D||Jeff Van Drew||$488,846||79||$32,818||$456,028|
|2nd District||D||Tanzira “Tanzie” Youngblood||$88,309||74||$74,207||$14,102|
|2nd District||D||William Cunningham||$51,951||100||$5,965||$45,986|
|2nd District||R||Brian Fitzherbert||$14,743||36||$10,421||$4,323|
|2nd District||R||Hirsh Singh||$109,348||51||$26,793||$82,555|
|3rd District||D||Andy Kim||$1,129,279||89||$314,424||$814,854|
|3rd District||R||Tom MacArthur *||Yes||$1,779,628||33||$698,594||$1,088,365|
|4th District||D||Joshua Welle||$288,426||94||$138,594||$149,832|
|4th District||D||Jim Keady||$229,406||100||$171,220||$38,621|
|4th District||R||Christopher H. Smith *||Yes||$563,734||71||$235,391||$600,732|
|5th District||D||Josh Gottheimer *||Yes||$3,707,288||75||$528,547||$3,257,827|
|5th District||R||Steven M. Lonegan||$1,346,456||24||$638,149||$708,307|
|5th District||R||John J. McCann||$170,691||26||$56,917||$113,774|
|6th District||D||Frank Pallone Jr. *||Yes||$1,379,259||37||$1,051,419||$1,563,482|
|7th District||D||Peter Jacob||$118,777||87||$106,698||$26,958|
|7th District||D||Tom Malinowski||$1,007,683||96||$267,739||$739,944|
|7th District||D||Jois Goutam||$378,217||74||$76,085||$302,131|
|7th District||R||Lindsay C. Brown||$3,705||100||$1,738||$1,967|
|7th District||R||Leonard Lance *||Yes||$1,106,821||51||$417,064||$849,999|
|7th District||R||Raafat Barsoom||$-||–||$2,000||$1,100|
|8th District||D||Albio Sires *||Yes||$185,264||32||$242,917||$232,634|
|9th District||D||Bill Pascrell Jr. *||Yes||$903,894||40||$677,705||$1,561,224|
|10th District||D||Donald Payne Jr. *||Yes||$313,181||18||$312,528||$75,626|
|11th District||D||Mikie Sherrill||$2,348,465||84||$684,984||$1,663,181|
|11th District||D||Tamara Harris||$581,271||44||$377,476||$203,795|
|11th District||D||Mitchell Cobert||$90,218||70||$77,977||$12,241|
|11th District||R||Jay Webber||$234,520||95||$13,181||$221,339|
|11th District||R||Patrick Allocco||$6,100||8||$6,702||$(602)|
|11th District||R||Antony Ghee||$64,750||86||$3,011||$61,739|
|11th District||R||Martin Hewitt||$8,962||99||$8,696||$266|
|12th District||D||Bonnie Watson Coleman *||Yes||$509,135||51||$375,655||$212,494|
Note: * indicates an incumbent; only candidates with reports published are listed.
Source: Federal Election Commission.