Though they have spent more money this year, the state’s county parties haven’t done much to improve their fundraising from 2015, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Democrats still lead in fundraising, having raised $2,896,072 between January and September, but those numbers are scarcely better than they were four years ago, the last time Assembly seats were at the top of the ballot.
Democratic county organizations raised $2,900,986 over the same period in 2015.
Republican groups showed a little more improvement, though their fundraising also remained largely level.
The GOP has raised $1,994,802 this year. By this point in 2015, they had brought in $1,942,512.
It’s possible that last minute donations not recorded in the ELEC report will cause both parties fundraising figures to surge past their totals in previous years, though ELEC executive director Jeff Brindle isn’t holding his breath.
“While county party fund-raising may not be in absolute free-fall, it is well below totals during the previous decade. For instance, county party committees together raised 34 percent less this year than the $7.4 million raised in 2009,” he said. “The fund-raising trendline continues to indicate weakness in the state’s political party system.”
Spending for county organizations belonging to both parties increased by about a fifth from 2015.
The Democratic organizations have spent $3,135,430, up from $2,586,700 in 2015, and Republican ones have doled out $1,938,038. That’s 22% more than the $1,590,156 GOP county committees spent by this point in 2015.
Despite their higher spending figures, Democratic party organizations went into the final weeks of the election with a cash advantage. They had $2,165,784 banked, while Republican organizations had $792,701.
Republican groups did have one advantage: Their fundraising in districts with competitive Assembly races often eclipsed those of their Democratic opponents.
In Somerset County, where candidates are vying over a freeholder and sheriff’s seat, the GOP raised $302,308, while Democrats raised just $131,019.
In Burlington County, Republicans raised $287,740 to Democrats’ $99,571.
Democrats did have a massive advantage in Bergen County. They raised $398,456 there. Republicans brought in just $79,976.
Overall, combined county party fundraising is down from its high points in 2018 and 2017, though it’s still the third highest it’s been since 2009.