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The New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Party fundraising steady in first quarter

Figures mostly predate virus restrictions

By Nikita Biryukov, May 13 2020 10:41 am

Party fundraising was largely remained steady over the first three months of the year, despite the COVID-10 crisis, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Through March, New Jersey’s county party organizations raised more than $1.2 million and spent just shy of $1.3 million. They went into the rest of the year with a collective $2.1 million in cash reserves.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked all of our lives. It certainly poses new challenges to candidates, parties and PACs trying to raise money for their continued operations,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director. “While the first quarter reports of county parties are encouraging, they may not reflect the full impact of state restrictions, which included bans on public gatherings like fund-raisers.”

Many of the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 did not take effect until weeks after the end of the reporting period.

Democratic fundraising figures are up across the board over where they were in 2016. While Republican organizations have spent more this year, their fundraising and cash reserves have taken something of a hit.

The Democratic organizations continue to outraise their GOP counterparts, bringing in $855,501 to the Republicans’ $379,192 and outspending them $933,271 to $357,626.

The Democratic county organizations also have a significantly larger warchest, leading the Republicans $1.7 million to $405,550.

Still, first-quarter fundraising for party organizations was just 42% of the all-time high reported in 2003.

“Even before the current virus crisis, party officials in New Jersey were facing long-term difficulties. Tight state caps on donations by public contractors cut into their coffers beginning around 2005,” Brindle said. “Another threat is competition from independent special interest groups, which used to send more checks to parties. Now they spend millions annually on New Jersey by bypassing parties and spending their money directly on campaigns.”

Democratic organizations in Bergen, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, Passaic and Union Counties go into the second quarter with more than $100,000 in reserve. No Republican county organizations could say the same.

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