TRENTON – County fundraising is at a five-year low as state election officials say next year’s gubernatorial and legislative showdowns have taken a back seat to national politics.
Preliminary numbers show that Republicans and Democrats together raised nearly $3.7 million and spent less than $3.2 million in the first three quarters, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“These third-quarter totals are the lowest we’ve seen for at least the past half decade,’’ said ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle in a statement, adding that pay-to-play restrictions are likely the biggest contributors to the drop-off.
“Some individuals affiliated with parties appear to be creating special interest PACs as conduits to try to help county parties recoup some of this banned contractor cash,” he said. “These PACs are also contributing money directly to candidates, further circumventing pay-to-play.”
Brindle also said a focus on national races and a sluggish economy could also explain the half decade low numbers.
Democrat county party committees raised roughly $2.2 million and spent nearly $2 million from January through Sept. 30, compared with Republican county committees that gathered $1.5 million and spent $1.2 million, according to the report.
Democrats reported having more than $1 million cash-on-hand, compared with Republicans’ roughly $555,000.