Lonegan camp says they qualify for matching funds

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan has raised enough campaign cash to receive matching funds from the state, according to his strategist, Rick Shaftan.

Shaftan didn’t have the exact numbers, but he said that Lonegan has raised over $340,000 – the threshold to receive two dollars for every dollar he raises beyond the $109,000 deductible.

If the contributions are verified, Lonegan will start out with about $802,000.

“The last six to eight weeks has been all fundraising,” said Shaftan.

Lonegan, a strict conservative who opposes campaign finance restrictions and government-funded campaigns in principle, faced some criticism for accepting matching funds during his 2005 gubernatorial campaign. But Lonegan takes a “hate the game, not the player” approach, arguing that he wouldn’t have to rely on matching funds if there were no restrictions on how much he could raise from each donor, while wealthy candidates like Gov. Corzine are not banned from using unlimited amounts of their own money.

Shaftan took the opportunity to needle former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, a potential primary opponent who is the favorite of establishment Republicans but has yet to declare his candidacy.

“People were like ‘Gee, can Lonegan raise the money?’ I think the question is if Christie can raise the money, since he has dollar zero in the bank right now,” said Shaftan. “Joe Kyrillos sends an email. Bill Palatucci does an interview. I think Andy Unanue had more of a campaign. He did an interview, didn’t he?”

Lonegan camp says they qualify for matching funds