County parties, both Democratic and Republican, are having their best fundraising year in about a decade, thanks in part to contributions by congressional candidate committees. The latest reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) show that, as of September 30, the county committees had hauled in $5.8 million.
“Republican county committees have prospered the most this year from contributions by federal candidates,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director. “So far, Republicans have taken in nearly a third of their funds from federal candidates. Democrats have received about $1 out of $19 from federal candidates.” But though Republican committees have gotten more than five times the amount from federal candidates as Democrats, the Dems still have raised and spent more than Republicans and report a larger cash reserve.
Bob Hugin, the wealthy Republican Senate candidate, has given $37,000 to all 21 Republican county committees; he has also reimbursed them for some rental payments, bringing his total payout to county parties so far to $788,310. Brindle noted that when wealthy candidates run for office, they usually help fund get-out-the-vote efforts and other election activities. “As we are seeing this year and previous ones, self-financed candidates can reinvigorate their entire party network,” he said.
While the county parties’ haul in 2018 is good for a federal election year, it’s still well below totals before 2005 when tight limits on contributions by public contractors had not gone into effect, and spending by independent special interest groups had not yet exploded due to federal court rulings.