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Before the State of the State address before a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on January 10, 2023. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Legislative fundraising by the numbers

Democrats lead GOP in cash-on-hand by margin of nearly 4-1

By David Wildstein, January 27 2023 4:05 am

Candidates for the New Jersey legislature are sitting on warchests totaling more than $19.1 million as of the end of last year, with more than half that in the coffers of the ten top fundraisers and Democrats enjoying a significant cash advantage.

In the Senate, 22 Democrats have a collective $7.75 million banked for re-election bids, while 14 Republicans getting ready to run again have $1.96 million cash on hand.

Assembly Democrats expected to run for re-election have a combined $5.3 million, while Assembly Republicans running again have a little more than $777,000 together,

Senate President Nicholas Scutari has the highest cash-on-hand in the state, with $2,026,281 banked at the start of the midterm election year.  That total represents Scutari’s re-election campaign account, not the Senate Democratic leadership committee he controls.

Paul Sarlo, the chairman of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, has $1,084,624 in his campaign account, the second-largest warchest in the legislature.  That’s enough to scare off a Republican challenge in the 36th district, which is a brutally uphill fight on a good day.

The Democratic assemblymen from the Bergen/Passaic 36th district are also in a strong cash position, with nearly $1.9 million combined.  Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) has $526,003 in the bank, the third most of any lower house member seeking re-election this year and the proprietor of the tenth largest warchest in the legislature, while Clinton Calabrese (D-Cliffside Park)  ranks fourth with $272,364 cash-on-hand.  Calabrese has the fifth largest warchest of assemblymember running for re-election and ranks number 17 statewide.

Former Senate President Steve Sweeney has $917,748 remaining in his campaign account after losing his seat to an unknown truck driver with no money, Edward Durr (R-Logan), in 2021, a contest he severely underestimated.  Sweeney is still deciding if he will seek a rematch this year – George Norcross wants him to, but he’s still on the fence.   Durr has not yet filed his fourth-quarter fundraising report, due on January 17, but had $33,704 cash-on-hand after the first three quarters of 2022.

State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) ranks fourth on the cash list with $832,670.  She has not faced a difficult primary or general election challenge since unseating two-term State Sen. Richard LaRossa (R-Ewing) in 1997.

Richard Codey (D-Roseland), a former Governor and Senate President,  has $786,729 ready to go in what could be a primary against his longtime friend, State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair). Codey, who has the fifth largest warchest, has been in the legislature since 1974; Gill has been there since 1994. She has just $13,971 in her campaign account.

With $637,624 banked, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has the largest cash-on-hand of any member of the lower house and the sixth overall.  This doesn’t include Coughlin’s legislative leadership committee, just his campaign for re-election in the 9th district.

Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Raj Mukherji has $583,491 for his bid for an open State Senate seat in the 32nd district.  That makes the Jersey City Democrat the number one fundraiser of non-incumbent State Senate candidates and the possessor of the seventh largest campaign warchest in the state.

Ranked at number eight statewide – and number two among incumbent State Assembly members seeking re-election – is Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), who chairs the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.  The labor leader has $567,320 in the bank.

State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) has $537,962 cash-on-hand as he prepares to seek an eighth term.   He places ninth overall and fifth among incumbent members of the State Senate.

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Joseph Pennacchio has $511,506 in his campaign account, the most of any Republican in the New Jersey Legislature and the sixth-most in the State Senate.

After Pennacchio, cash totals for lawmakers drop by more than six figures.

State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) has banked $403,568 for his re-election bid in the 38th, one of the districts Republicans would have to flip to win a majority in the Senate.

Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), the Senate Education Committee chairman and a two-term incumbent,  is one of two Democratic senators facing the most challenging race in 2023, based on the voting history of the Monmouth-based 11th district.  He has $390,157 cash-on-hand, which ranks him eighth among incumbent senators and number 13 overall.

Assembly Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman John McKeon (D-West Orange) has a warchest of $372,595; that’s the fourth-highest in the lower house.  McKeon has made some noise about running for the Senate in the 27th district Democratic primary against Codey and Gill.

The chairman of the Assembly Labor Committee, 84-year-old labor leader Joseph Egan (D-New Brunswick), comes to the table with $371,590 after eleven terms in the legislature and more than 40 years in public office.

State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-North Haledon), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, has $321,332 in the bank.

Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley) is in his second tenure in the legislature, and with $241,092 in his warchest, he’s not going to let himself get caught flat-footed in an unexpected primary.  The 82-year-old Caputo was first elected to the State Assembly in 1967 as a 27-year-old Republican from Newark’s North Ward while Lyndon B. Johnson was still in the White House.  He lost a GOP primary in 1971, switched parties, and spent 36 years trying to get back to Trenton.

Two years after facing a sitting assemblyman in a Democratic primary, State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union) has put together a $223,121 bank account as he prepares to seek his third term in the Senate.

Rounding out the top 20 legislative fundraisers is Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell).  He has $220,318 cash-on-hand.

To put some perspective on Trenton campaign warchests, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), the Human Fundraising Machine and a potential candidate for the 2025 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, had over $13.3 million cash-on-hand as of the end of November 2022 — that’s almost $1.5 million more than the combined campaign accounts of the top 20 members of the New Jersey Legislature.

Among non-incumbent candidates for the legislature, the top fundraiser is Al Barlas, who is seeking an open Assembly seat in the 40th district.  The Essex County GOP chairman has $111,523 cash-on-hand; that’s the third-biggest warchest of any Republican running for Assembly in 2023, including incumbents.

Barlas’ running mate, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff), has the most money in the Assembly Republican Caucus: $145,095.  He’s followed by Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), who has $122,833 in the bank.

The bottom of the pack

The shallowest campaign account among incumbents in the New Jersey Legislature belongs to freshman Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington); she has just $1,660 in the bank as she seeks to defend the 3rd district seat she won as part of Durr’s 2021 upset victory over Sweeney.

The other assemblywoman from the 3rd district, Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich), is in better shape; she has $32,469 in her campaign fund.

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), who appears headed to the State Senate this fall in a resplendently safe Democratic district with no incumbent senator, has just $3,711 cash-on-hand.  That makes her the most cash-poor Democratic lawmaker in the state.

A freshman Republican widely viewed as a rising star, Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (D-Holmdel), has just $3,781 in her campaign account.  That comes just two years after she ousted two-term incumbent Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) in the GOP primary.

In the 31st district, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), who hopes to get the nod for what will clearly be an open State Senate seat, comes to the table with a mere $6,211 cash-on-hand.

Freshman Assemblyman Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson) has $9,852 in available campaign funds as he transitions from the 26th district to the 25th.  Assemblyman Brian Bergen, who faces a primary challenge in the 26th after representing the 25th for four years, has $19,145 in cash.  Another account he shares with Pennacchio and Webber has $3,908 in it.  Former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany), who lost to Barranco in the 2021 GOP primary and is challenging Webber and Bergen this June, has just $8,022 in the bank.

A pair of sophomore Republican assemblymen, Erik Simonsen (R-Lower) and Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City), share a campaign account with $23,201 in it.

In the Middlesex-based 18th district, Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick) has $14,991 in the bank.

After unseating a three-term incumbent in 2021 by 347 votes, Assemblywoman Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury) has banked just $6,523 for her re-election bid in the politically competitive 11th district, which also elected a Democratic state senator, Gopal, in the last election.   Her running mate, Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck), ran 159 votes in front of Eulner in the previous election and has $15,521 in her campaign account.   The two share a joint campaign account that has $27,641 in it.

Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) has a campaign account with $10,956 in it, while his 39th district running mate, Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River), has $13,421 in her fund.

Assemblyman John Catalano (R-Brick), who appears to be facing a primary in the Ocean County-based 10th district, has $17,051 cash-on-hand.  His running mate, Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River), has $50,531 ready to spend in the same primary.  The two assemblymen also share an account with State Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Toms River) that has $12,102 in it; Holzapfel, who is not expected to have a primary, has $47,136 in his account.

In the 30th district, Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Wall) has $24,591 in his account.

Freshman Assemblyman William B. Sampson IV (D-Bayonne), who lost his license as a crane operator pulled for not showing up at work because of his Assembly duties, has $27,880 in the bank.

Fundraising numbers for State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) are an anomaly because his $13,141 cash-on-hand doesn’t necessarily offer an accurate glimpse of his constant 365-day-per-year campaign operation.

Other competitive districts

In the Atlantic County-based 2nd district, where three Republican legislators were freshly elected in 2021, State Sen. Vince Polistina (R-Egg Harbor Township) has $53,678 cash-on-hand; Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City) has $20,433 banked, and Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-Margate) has $16,763.   The trio has a joint campaign account with $116,382 in it.

It needs to be clarified if State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington Township) will try to hold the 4th district Senate seat; the conventional wisdom (which has been wrong twice before) is that he will retire after 20 years in Trenton.  Madden has $76,794 ready if he does run in a district that became significantly better for Republicans after legislative redistricting.    Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township), who could run for the Senate if Madden doesn’t, has $159,473 banked; his running mate, Assemblywoman Gabby Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township), has much less: $37,582.

Freshman State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), the only Democrat to flip a Republican legislative seat in 2021, has $65,646 cash-on-hand in the 16th district.  Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) has $107,914 in the bank.   The Democratic joint account in the district has $48,880 in it.

Two freshman GOP assemblymen in the 8th district, mainly in Burlington County, have less than $40,000 in the bank.  Michael Torrissi, Jr. (R-Hammonton) has $22,297, while Brandon Umba (R-Medford) sits on $16,379.

State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) has a healthy $219,064 in the bank as she seeks re-election to a sixth term in the Mercer/Middlesex 14th district.

The two Assembly incumbents in the 38th district, Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield) are in decent financial shape.  Swain, who chairs the Appropriations Committee,  has $114,063 in campaign cash; Tully, who was Gottheimer’s district director before running for the legislature in 2018, has about half of that: $56,096.   The two Democrats share a joint account worth $13,789.

Intent on seeking re-election to a four-year term, 87-year-old Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) is increasingly likely to face a contested Republican primary.  He has $68,063 cash-on-hand, which may need to be more to bang an opponent who gets organization lines.

Decent money for leadership with mostly safe seats

Banked: Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald has $213,136; Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho has $210,726 (not including his leadership committee); Assembly Budget Committee Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark) has $198,973; Senate Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) has $170,228; Senate Minority Whip Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) has $143,883; and Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) has $124,979.   The minority leader of the State Assembly, John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown), has $96,873 in his campaign account, not including his leadership committee.

Also solidly in the six-figure range: State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland) has $198,973; Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Edison) has $175,795; State Sen. James Beach (D-Voorhees) has $170,228; State Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Barrington) has $150,867; Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson) has $128,892; State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River-Vale) has $127,352; State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) has $117,458; State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) has $111,423; and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) has $102,770.

Newcomers and old-timers

The newest member of the legislature, State Sen. Doug Steinhardt (R-Lopatcong), entered the Senate in December and accumulated $76,932 before the end of last year.   State Sen. Renee Burgess (D-Irvington), who replaced Ronald Rice (D-Newark) in the 28th district in September and ran in a special election in November, has $29,155 cash-on-hand.   Rice is still sitting on $33,364 in campaign funds.

In the 24th district, where two Republican assemblymen are retiring, Lafayette Board of Education President Josh Aikens has $25,690 cash-on-hand, while Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski has $24,280 as of the end of last year.

Glen Rock businessman Barry Wilkes, seeking the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 38th district, has $25,351 in his campaign fund.

The late Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted), who died last summer, has $155,821 left in his campaign account.  Former Assemblywoman Clare Farragher (R-Freehold), 81, who lost her seat in 2003 and lives in Florida, carries a bank balance of $10,002.

The two Democratic assemblymen who lost their 3rd district seats unexpectedly in 2021 still have money remaining in their election funds: John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) has $49,139, and Adam Taliaferro (D-Woolwich) has $46,122.  They were Sweeney’s running mates.



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