After a hugely successful 2021 cycle, New Jersey Republicans have some lofty hopes for 2023’s legislative elections. With all 120 legislative seats up, the party intends to make a push into Democratic-leaning districts that haven’t recently hosted highly competitive races, giving them a very narrow path to a majority.
But Democratic incumbents in two such key districts, the 14th in Central Jersey and the 38th in Bergen County, have built up major warchests ahead of this year’s election that they could deploy if Republicans do indeed make a serious play for their seats.
In the 14th district, State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) had $219,064 on-hand as of the end of 2022, while her running mate, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), had a colossal $567,320. The district’s third incumbent, Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton), is running for Mercer County Executive, leaving an open seat for Democrats to defend.
Republicans have landed on their likely Senate candidate, Patricia Johnson, and are still hashing out their Assembly slate. Johnson launched her candidacy earlier this month, so she hasn’t filed any fundraising reports yet, but she and her running mates will be hard-pressed to catch up with their Democratic opponents.
Democratic incumbents in the 38th district have nearly as much as their 14th district counterparts, though State Sen. Joe Lagana (D-Paramus) seemingly hasn’t filed his 4th quarter report, so it’s not exactly clear where his fundraising currently stands.
As of September 2022, Lagana had $398,280 on-hand. His two running mates, Assemblymembers Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Chris Tully (D-Bergenfield) – who do have 4th quarter reports available – collectively had $172,515 at the end of 2022.
One Republican Assembly candidate, former Glen Rock GOP Chairman Barry Wilkes, reported raising $25,375 in the opening quarter of his Assembly bid. Republicans are otherwise still sorting out who will be on their legislative slate, with one possibility being former Assemblyman Guy Talarico (R-Oradell).
Big warchests don’t necessarily mean that Democratic incumbents have turbocharged their fundraising for this year’s elections; Greenstein, for example, raised just $25,680 last quarter.
But because Republicans haven’t forced them to spend much cash in previous election cycles, Democrats across the state have been able to save up money cycle after cycle – giving them a built-up advantage if and when Republicans do finally try to target them.