Latecomer Peter DeNeufville says he’s prepared to pump virtually any amount of money into his campaign for Congress.
A relative unknown, DeNeufville, who was one of former Gov. Chris Christie’s top fundraisers and faces an uphill battle given his low name recognition and the looming nature of June’s primary elections, plans to introduce himself to the district’s voters through a combination of direct campaigning and ad spending.
Though he declined to release a fundraising total in advance of the April 15 quarterly filing deadline, the 11th congressional district candidate will be seeking to raise funds from donors, and DeNeufville said he was willing to inject a virtually limitless amount of his own wealth into the campaign.
“We’re going to run an aggressive campaign and I will contribute funds to make sure we can spend enough to win,” he said. “I’ll contribute whatever we need to do to win, as will many of our donors.”
The spending there has already started. Though he declined to provide specifics, DeNeufville said his campaign expects to roll out a number of TV ads in the next week or two, and the campaign has already started to send out email blasts to thousands of people in the district.
DeNeufville said he has already started making campaign stops and dropping in at Republican fundraisers, actions he plans to continue undertaking in the coming weeks.
While he declined to release them and said the campaign would wait until it had a group of them to release at once, DeNeufville said his run has been racking up endorsements, though he seemed to try to play down the importance of these showings of public approval.
“This campaign won’t be won on the number of endorsements a candidate receives,” DeNeufville said. “But, we have a number, and in the coming days, we’ll begin to put those out.”
DeNeufville, who said he entered to race because of the country’s climbing national debt, immigration issues, terror threats and school security, was often cagey about the policies he would seek to implement if elected to fill retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat
Though, he did offer one platform that might be atypical for Republican running to fill a seat that has not been won by a Democrat since the district was redrawn in 1984.
DeNeufville said he would seek to improve gun background to better comply with federal regulations that could have prevented attacks like the one committed last November by a former U.S. Air Force serviceman.
Authorities said at the time that court martials for domestic abuse should have prevented Devin P. Kelley, who killed 26 in a shooting spree, from purchasing the gun he used in the massacre, but the Air Force did enter Kelley’s name into a federal database used for these background checks.
“Clearly, there are significant gaps in the background check system,” DeNeufville said.
Though departure may be striking for Republicans in red states, it’s unlikely to make many waves in New Jersey – where, according to a recent Stockton poll, 75 percent of residents think stricter gun control laws are called for – and his stance is not all that different from Frelinghuysen’s, who has received a D rating from the National Rifle Association, indicating a pro-gun-control voting record.
DeNeufville said his campaign would lay out a number of general measures to combat these issues, and others like environmental protection, in the coming days.
Multiple times during the interview, DeNeufville stressed his commitment to lowering the national debt, even calling himself a “national-debt-focused conservative Republican” and invoking his friendship with Peter Peterson, who briefly served as secretary of commerce under President Richard Nixon and was once named the most influential billionaire in politics by the Los Angeles Times.
Peterson, who advocated fiscal conservatism for much of his life, died in March.
Still, it’s not yet clear how DeNeufville would curb the national debt and its service payments, which he called untenable.
DeNeufville said he favored the tax cuts Republicans passed last December, which only one member of the New Jersey delegation, Rep. Tom MacArthur, voted for. The measure is considered to hit New Jersey, a high tax state, harder than many other states by capping the state and local interest tax deduction.
He said his plan to curb the national debt would focus on the country’s spending, though he declined to name specific programs that might see cuts, saying that more information on what might be targeted would come later.
“There are all manner of programs that we have to look at very carefully,” DeNeufville said.