Since his well-reviewed performance in last week's debate and issuance of a detailed property tax cut plan, independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett has gotten a lot of positive press coverage.
But that has not translated into campaign donations.
Daggett scraped together the $340,000 needed to qualify for matching funds from the state by July, giving his small campaign a large boost. But since raising that initial amount, his political donations have slowed to a trickle.
More than half of the $939,256 Daggett has spent so far — $521,000 – has gone to his unorthodox advertising campaign led by Minnesota ad guru Bill Hillsman, according to his 29-day pre-election report filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
According to the filing, Daggett has only $109,267 left of the $1.06 million he has raised.
"I don't know if I'd call it disappointing," said Daggett of his fundraising. "I knew going in this was going to be hard from the standpoint of an independent."
The problem, according to Daggett: "There are a number of people who, for whatever reason, fear retribution for donating to an independent."
Daggett claims that Democrats, Republicans and non-partisan policy experts have expressed support and even aided his campaign, but few want to see that support on the record in the form of a name on a campaign finance disclosure statement.
"I've had people tell me that they're nervous about it. People know it's all public information when they give money to the campaign and they don't want to be associated with it in that way," he said.
The former state Environmental Protection Commissioner is not without some semi-high profile contributors. Judith Shaw, who served as Chief of Staff to Gov. Christine Todd Whitman; former state Education Commissioner Saul Cooperman, Margaret Howard, who was Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Tom Kean, and Dr. Fred Jacobs, who was state Health Commissioner under Gov. James E. McGreevey, are listed as Daggett donors.
Daggett has more obstacles than just money. While Chris Christie and Governor Corzine get the first two spot on each county's ballot, Daggett is buried with the other nine independent or third party candidates.