Pre-Election Fundraising by Guv Candidates or their Allies Tops $10.6 Million


Senator Linda Greenstein, and ELEC's Jeff Brindle and Joe Donohue

Senator Linda Greenstein, and ELEC’s Jeff Brindle and Joe Donohue Max Pizarro for Observer

With the official starting date for the 2017 gubernatorial election still eight months away, committees with ties to potential candidates already have raised $10.6 million and spent $5.8 million, according to an ELEC analysis.

Campaign Finance Activity of Committees Formed by or
Supporting Potential Gubernatorial Candidates
Steve Fulop    Jersey City Mayor    Coalition For Progress    $3,529,205    $   247,822

Phil Murphy    Former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany    New Way For New Jersey    $3,396,632    $3,210,753

Steve Sweeney    State Senate President    New Jerseyans For A Better Tomorrow    $1,532,900    $   329,897

Phil Murphy    (see above)    New Start NJ       $1,300,000    $1,300,000

Raymond Lesniak    State Senator    Committee For Economic Growth And Social Justice    $   683,661    $   683,581

Kim Guadagno    Lieutenant Governor    We Care About NJ PAC    $   133,509    $     64,756

Raymond Lesniak    (see above)    Run Ray Run    $     39,500     $    20,188

Kim Guadagno    Lieutenant Governor    Building a Better New Jersey Together    NA    NA

TOTALS    $10,615,407    $5,856,997

So far, eight committees have been formed that are either directly or indirectly tied to four possible Democratic candidates and one possible Republican candidate.

Two committees largely funded by Phil Murphy have raised and spent the most. They have raised $4.7 million and spent $4.5 million.

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Ambassador to Germany, held a press conference on May 16, 2016 to become the first to announce a gubernatorial candidacy. He also pledged to contribute $10 million to his primary campaign.

A 527 political fund-raising committee he formed named New Way for New Jersey files disclosure reports with the IRS. Started in 2015, it has spent the most- about $3.2 million. So far, Murphy and his wife Tammy have contributed $3.2 million from their personal funds, according to available reports

Murphy in 2014 also formed a 501(c)4 non-profit group known as New Start NJ that files reports with the IRS and does not reveal its donors. However, a campaign aide has publicly said it has raised and spent $1.3 million, mostly from Murphy.

Coalition for Progress, a Super PAC formed by supporters of Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, has reported the most fund-raising by one committee- $3.5 million, according to reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission. The group was formed in 2015.

Supporters of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D- 3rd) are behind New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow, which has raised $1.5 million and spent $329,897, according to reports voluntarily filed with ELEC. It began operating in 2015.
The oldest group, the Committee for Economic Growth and Social Justice, was formed in 2013 by allies of state Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20th) and has spent less than $700,000. Another pro-Lesniak group called Run Ray Run was begun last year and has spent $20,188.

Supporters of a gubernatorial run by Kim Guadagno, Governor Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor, formed We Care About NJ PAC in 2015. It raised $133,509 and spent $64,756 since then.

More recently, in April 2016, her supporters formed Building a Better New Jersey Together. It is a 501(c)4 non-profit group, which files reports with the IRS and does not disclose its contributions.

Fulop, Murphy, Sweeney and Lesniak all would be vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Guadagno is a Republican.

New Jersey does not elect a new governor until November 2017. It is not unusual nor illegal for possible contenders or their allies to try to expand public awareness of the would-be contestants by raising and spending money before the election year. Some also use the expenditures to help gauge the level of support for a gubernatorial bid.

For instance, before the 2001 gubernatorial election year, one Democrat and three Republicans spent a total of $4.9 million ($6.8 million adjusted for inflation) to help build “name recognition” and perhaps lay the groundwork for formal runs. They used two 527 committees, three 501(c) non-profits and a federal political action committee.

Under state law, a candidate must file a form with ELEC designating a treasurer and bank account within 10 days of receiving a contribution or making an expenditure related to an official gubernatorial campaign. Candidates in New Jersey are eligible for public funding if they agree to limit their campaign expenditures.

Editor’s Note: This is a reprint of an article Joe Donohue of the state Election Law Enforcement Commission wrote in the June edition of ELEC’s newsletter.

To access the entire June newsletter prepared by ELEC, click below:

ELEC-Tronic, Issue 84 JUNE

Pre-Election Fundraising by Guv Candidates or their Allies Tops $10.6 Million