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Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Ciattarelli still hasn’t qualified for full public funding match

GOP gubernatorial candidate now buying TV ads on a week-to-week basis

By David Wildstein, April 30 2021 12:17 am

Jack Ciattarelli shifted his TV ad buys from bi-weekly to weekly this week, a move that might suggest cash flow issues in his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but his campaign says that’s not the case.

“As with any campaign, our ad buy decisions are based on any number of strategic factors,” said Eric Arpert, Ciattarelli’s campaign manager.  “We are confident in our fundraising and our cash flow.”

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Ciattarelli has been up on the air with cable television buys in the New York and Philadelphia media markets since March, spending $1,870,509 through May 7, according to reports obtained by the New Jersey Globe.

While Ciattarelli is the presumptive Republican nominee to take on Gov. Phil Murphy in the falls, he has not yet reached the maximum amount of $4.6 million in matching funds available under the state’s public financing program.

So far, Ciattarelli has received $2,883,176, including $749,737 on April 12.  His campaign can still get another $1,716,824, if he can raise another $572,275 over the next five weeks.

Murphy raised more than $3.5 million before the end of last year, qualifying for the full $4.6 million match.  He’s already drawn $4.1 million.

On April 28, the Ciattarelli campaign reserved $175,569 for 200 TV spots in North Jersey, including Yankees and Mets games, and $87,000 for South Jersey, including Phillies games, through May 7.  He’s buying ads on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, USA Network, Golf Channel, HGTV, Lifetime, the Food Network, and News 12 New Jersey.

To be clear, there is no real difference in the cost of ads by buying them week-to-week.

The good news for Ciattarelli is that none of his primary opponents have qualified for matching funds – and he has endorsements from all 21 Republican county organizations.

He also doesn’t need the full match to win the primary.

In 2017, then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno never qualified for the full match in the primary – she received just 53% of maximum amount – or in the general.  Ciattarelli, challenging Guadagno for the 2017 nomination, raised just 27% of the maximum $4 million.

Democrat Barbara Buono fell far short on fundraising for her 2013 primary and general elections. In 2009, Republican Chris Christie received the maximum public funds in the primary and general elections.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Christie did not qualify for the full general election match.  

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