Fundraising among state party organizations and legislative leadership PACs jumped to the highest level in a dozen years during the first quarter of 2021, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission announced Tuesday.
The “Big Six” brought in a little under $2.3 million in the first three months of the year, fueled by fundraising spikes among both Republicans and Democrats.
Democratic groups continued to outraise their Republican counterparts, bringing in roughly $1.8 million to the Republicans’ $499,349.
The bulk of the Democratic money went to the Democratic State Committee, which brought in a whopping $1.2 million in the first quarter. The Republican State Committee raised a little more than one-tenth of that, bringing in $128,936.
The gap was far narrower between Senate and Assembly leadership PACs belonging to each party.
The Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee raised $219,575, about $95,000 more than the $124,119 raised by Assembly Republican Victory. Senate Democratic Majority outraised Senate Republican Majority by a little more than $111,000, $357,408 to $246,294.
“The state’s political leaders, like everyone else, appear to be adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down several fund-raisers last year at this time,” ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle said. “Fundraising for the first three months of 2021 is nearly triple the amount raised for the same period in 2020.”
Fundraising is up across the board despite the heavy Democratic advantage. Republicans raised 81% more than they did in the first quarter of 2017, the last time a gubernatorial race was on the New Jersey ballot. Democratic fundraising is up 122% over the same period.
Overall fundraising is up 112%, though spending saw a sharper jump of 146%. The latter movement was fueled almost entirely by Democrats, who spent a little less than $1.1 million during the year’s first quarter. Republicans, meanwhile, spent $264,390.
All but one of the Democratic groups have a cash advantage over their Republican counterparts.
The Democratic State Committee reported having $899,543 in its war chest, while the state GOP had a comparatively meager $173,276. Democrats’ Senate leadership PAC had $594,733 banked to Senate Republican Majority’s $198,537.
But the GOP’s Assembly leadership PAC did have a cash advantage, banking $245,195 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee’s $198,347.
The commission took the boosted fundraising numbers as a good sign.
“ELEC believes party committees are important because they are more accountable and transparent than so-called ‘outside’ independent spenders that are growing more dominant,” Brindle said. “We will continue to work with lawmakers to try to enact new laws that will hopefully redirect more funds back into party coffers.”