Recently released ELEC reports provide some tantalizing early clues to the Republican Senate primary in District 13, the Monmouth-based contest to replace Senator Joe Kryillos that’s shaping up to be the most fascinating race in the state. The primary pits Assembly running mates Declan O’Scanlon vs Amy Handlin, who are both hoping to graduate to the state senate in the fall.
The reports show O’Scanlon with an early edge in cash on hand, but neither candidate is sitting on a comfortable sum for a race that could easily cost $500,000. As of Dec. 31, O’Scanlon had $114,000 and Handlin had $69,000.
Where some of that money came from is equally interesting.
O’Scanlon got $8,200 from Sen. Kevin O’Toole and $2,600 from ex-Assemblyman Scott Rumana; Handlin got only the same $1,000 that Rumana, who is exiting the Assembly to become a judge, gave to all the Republican members.
The biggest point of differentiation, and one that will surely be heard throughout the primary season, and amplified in mailers and even on ad buys on Fox News if the consultants have their way, is that Handlin voted No on the October 7 gas tax and O’Scanlon voted Yes.
This might give Handlin an edge among Republican primary voters, who always favor tax cutters. At the same time, the building trades, which stand to benefit from the gas tax being used to build roads, have rewarded O’Scanlon with donations.
The Utility and Transportation Contractors Association PAC, Constructors for Good Government, gave him $7,600 on Nov. 07, and the NJ State Laborers PAC ponied up $8,200 as did Operating Engineeers Local 825, which sent $8,200. The road paving company J. Fletcher Creamer, whose khaki trucks are a fixture on Jersey’s TLC-desperate roads, sent $2,600, joined by companies like George Harms Construction, Earle Asphalt Company, Northeast Remsco Construction, and the NJ Asphalt PAC.
In other words, the O’Scanlon cash advantage is the fruit of a vote that could hurt him among Republican primary voters.
If Handlin is feeling any pain or losing any sleep over this, she can take some comfort from her own donors. She got $600 from the NJ Anesthesia PAC and $500 from Pfizer, which manufactures AMBIEN.