Jon Corzine’s departure from politics created a money drain with Democratic County committees, while the presence of national GOP star Gov. Chris Christie did little to boost county-level coffers.
County party committees jointly raised and spent about $8.5 million, a significant drop from 2007, when both legislative houses were also in contention, according to quarterly reports filed with the New Jersey Election law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, said overall fundraising by the 42 county party committees was down about 42 percent in four years.
Dems endured the bigger drop with the absence from the political landscape of former Gov. Corzine’s checkbook.
In 2007, Democratic County Party Committees raised $11,070,317, compared to $5,450,349 last year – a 51% difference.
Republican committees raised $3,597,070 in 2007, compared to $2,998,862 last year – a 17% difference.
“Fundraising by county parties has been on a steady decline since the mid-2000s, when many public contractors simply stopped making contributions after the state adopted tough new contribution limits,’’ said Brindle. “Contractors and others also have scaled back the size of their contributions, perhaps because of the sluggish economy.”
“Democratic county committees also have been hurt by the fact that former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, one of their biggest patrons during the previous decade, has stopped giving to them,’’ he said.
Brindle gave a nod to the non-profit angle, epitomized by the Christie-friendly Reform Jersey Now.
“There is another reason why overall fundraising is down over the past four years,” said the executive director. “A new breed of independent non-profit groups is becoming active in campaigns nationally and statewide. These groups appear to be siphoning away contribution dollars that traditionally would have gone to party committees.’’
While Democratic coffers have suffered more since 2007, Democrats still raised and spent more funds in 2011.