NJ Gov Race: Guadagno, Murphy Raise Enough for Matching Funds

Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy have gathered enough donations to qualify for public matching funds, according to their campaigns, with each raising more than $430,000 since the June 6 primaries.

New Jersey’s public financing program for gubernatorial candidates gives them two dollars for every dollar raised, provided they get at least $430,000 from donors first. The program also caps spending for the candidates who participate. At most, each candidate can get $9.3 million in matching funds and spend a total of $13.8 million in the general election.

Neither Murphy, the Democratic nominee this year, nor Guadagno, the Republican nominee, provided their fundraising totals on Wednesday. But both campaigns announced they had passed the $430,000 threshold.

Murphy spokesman Derek Roseman said the campaign has raised more than $700,000, “well over the threshold” needed to qualify. In a statement released on Wednesday, Guadagno’s campaign said she had “raised more than $430,000 since winning the primary election.”

Guadagno campaign manager Dave Huguenel credited Guadagno’s promise after winning the primary not to run for a second term as governor if she failed to lower property taxes during her first term.

”Surpassing this important fundraising threshold in less than 30 days shows that Kim Guadagno’s pledge to lower property taxes during her first term or not run for a second is resonating with New Jersey voters,” Huguenel said in a statement.

Murphy has raised nearly $750,000, his campaign manager, Brendan Gill, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“With the broad support we have received, we are confident that we will have all the resources necessary to make sure all voters learn about Phil’s positive, forward-thinking vision for New Jersey,” Gill said. The campaign plans to apply formally for matching funds at the state Election Law Enforcement Commission’s meeting July 11, he added.

Murphy did not apply for matching funds in the primary, instead loaning his campaign nearly $16 million from his personal fortune, far surpassing the $6.4 million limit he would have faced had he agreed to take matching funds. Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, eclipsed all his rivals in both parties with his primary spending — and that race basically became a sustained attack on what opponents said was Murphy’s effort to buy the nomination. Gill noted that Murphy also raised $5.5 million from more than 8,000 individual donors.

But after the primary — New Jersey’s most expensive ever, when outside spending groups are added into the mix — Murphy said he would apply for matching funds in the general election. That move by Murphy puts him and Guadagno on somewhat of a level playing field, although Murphy is generally favored by political experts to win the governorship.

The state Election Law Enforcement Commission has yet to certify that Murphy and Guadagno have qualified for matching funds and had not made any disbursements to their campaigns as of Wednesday.

Update (6 p.m.): This post has been updated with comments from Murphy campaign manager Brendan Gill. NJ Gov Race: Guadagno, Murphy Raise Enough for Matching Funds