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The List: Ranking 2020 Campaign Contributions for NJ House Candidates

Gottheimer leads way as Democratic incumbents are main recipients of more than $9 million in funding through the first half of 2019

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Just six months into the 116th session of Congress, the races for New Jersey’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2020 election have already drawn some $9.4 million in campaign contributions. Most of that money has flowed into the coffers of Democratic incumbents.

Last November’s midterm elections turned the state almost entirely blue, as voters swept Democrats into four previously red districts: Two incumbent Republicans — Tom MacArthur (R-3rd) and Leonard Lance (R-7th) — lost, while two others — Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th) — retired. Only one district remains in GOP hands, with longtime Rep. Chris Smith holding on to the fourth district, which bisects the state and stretches from Hamilton in Mercer County through much of Monmouth County, and to Bay Head in Ocean County.

The blue wave that washed the Democrats into office was largely seen as a rejection of President Donald Trump. A modern-day-record 56 percent of those registered voted. But it’s unclear what might happen next year when the president is on the ballot. Presidential election years always have higher turnouts, and if more Republicans go to the polls, or independents lean conservative, at least some of the freshman Democrats could find themselves kicked out of Washington.

Aggressively raising money

So the newcomers are not taking any chances and have been aggressively raising money to ensure they will be competitive in a state where it’s costly to run, sandwiched between two of the most expensive television markets in the nation. Three candidates raised more than $1 million apiece in the first six months of this year, with the fourth taking in $755,000, according to the most recent candidate filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Still, no one can compete with sophomore Josh Gottheimer, the Democrat who pulled off the ultimate upset in unseating Republican incumbent Scott Garrett in a long-standing red district that includes the conservative northwestern part of the state. The district chose Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Gottheimer raised more than $1.7 million between January 1 and June 30 of this year, FEC data show. That makes him the ninth largest House fundraiser in the nation.

Only one nonincumbent ranks among the 10 New Jersey candidates who have brought in the most money. That’s Tom Kean Jr., a Republican state senator who is trying to win the sprawling seventh district that stretches from Hunterdon County in the west to Essex and Union in the east, and then up into Warren County. Kean, who lost a prior bid for the GOP nomination for the seat in the 2000 election, and lost a 2006 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Bob Menendez, has raised more than $500,000.

Who will run for Senate?

One of the state’s U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot next year as well, but who will run will depends on the outcome of the Democratic presidential primaries. Incumbent Cory Booker is among the two dozen Democrats vying for the nomination. A state law enacted last year allows a New Jersey candidate to run for both U.S. Senate and president at the same time. So far, Hirsh Singh, who ran back-to-back unsuccessful campaigns for governor and Congress, is the only Republican who has raised money — $78,125, according to the FEC. Booker is putting all his effort into his presidential campaign and has transferred $2.7 million from his Senate account to his presidential coffers, but still reported $184,186 in contributions toward a Senate race in the first six months of this year.

These are all the candidates the FEC shows as having reported receiving contributions during the first half of this year and the amounts they raised, spent and had in the bank as of June 30:

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th) — $1.7 million raised, $197,214 spent, $5.7 million cash on hand

  • Rep. Andy Kim (D-3rd) — $1.2 million raised, $280,169 spent, $969,810 cash on hand

  • Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th) — $1.14 million raised, $438,465 spent, $1.1 million cash on hand

  • Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7th) — $1.12 million raised, $170,222 spent, $1 million cash on hand

  • Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th) — $890,600 raised, $437,248 spent, $2.6 million cash on hand

  • Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd) — $755,962 raised, $214,340 spent, $545,822 cash on hand

  • Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st) — $683,867 raised, $143,274 spent, $1.3 million cash on hand

  • Thomas Kean Jr. (R-7th) — $507,462 raised, $86,610 spent, $420,853 cash on hand

  • Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th) — $392,376 raised, $116,266 spent, $319,122 cash on hand

  • Rep. William Pascrell Jr. (D-9th) — $374,131 raised, $297,590 spent, $1.7 million cash on hand

  • Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th) — $162,127 raised, $114,913 spent, $92,003 cash on hand

  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th) — $141,834 raised, $129,812 spent, $161,395 cash on hand

  • Frank Pallotta (R-5th) — $146,810 raised, $31,657 spent, $115,153 cash on hand

  • Rep. Albio Sires (D-8th) — $118,207 raised, $90,303 spent, $181,753 cash on hand

  • John McCann (R-5th) — $81,787 raised, $24,246 spent, $58,596 cash on hand

  • David Applefield (D-4th) — $73,741 raised, $17,762 spent, $55,979 cash on hand

  • Zinovia Spezakis (D-9th) — $69,394 raised, $36,933 spent, $25,826 cash on hand

  • Alpaslan Basaran (D-9th) — $28,532 raised, $24,525 spent, $4,007 cash on hand

  • Tom Phillips (R-7th) — $8,294 raised, $5,067 spent, $3,227 cash on hand

  • John Flora (D-10th) — $5,149 raised, $148 spent, $5,001 cash on hand

  • John Hsu (D-6th) — $5,092 raised, $1,019 spent, $4,073 cash on hand

  • Joshua Duvall (R-1st) — $4,631 raised, $1,913 spent, $5,511 cash on hand

  • Reiner Prijten (R-11th) — $3,010 raised, $2,713 spent, $297 cash on hand

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