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

County party fundraising drops sharply in second quarter

County organizations report smallest six-month fundraising haul in 20 years

By Nikita Biryukov, August 04 2020 10:38 am

Fundraising among county party organizations dropped sharply in the second quarter of 2020, according to a report released by the Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, the state’s 42 county party organizations brought in $1.9 million, their smallest six-month fundraising haul in 20 years.

The lackluster showing is due mainly because of a sharp drop off in fundraising during the second quarter. The organizations raised just $648,729 that quarter. That’s about 50% less than $1.3 million the groups raised in the year’s first quarter.

“The COVID-19 pandemic on top of the long-term downward trend in county political party strength has added to the difficulty of party fundraising and it really shows this quarter,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director.

Fundraising among the big six — the Republican and Democratic state parties and their respective legislative leadership PACS — also sharply declined in the second quarter, falling by roughly 36% from the first quarter.

“Just like society at large, party officials I’m sure are trying to adapt to the COVID-19 era. Their problem is that even before the pandemic struck, parties already were having trouble raising money compared to the 2000s,” Brindle said. “Fundraising competition from independent special interest groups plus a steep drop in funds from public contractors due to new laws have shrunk county party coffers.”

Democratic county organizations maintained a fundraising lead over their Republican counterparts.

In the first six months of the year, the state’s 21 Democratic county organizations raised about $1.2 million, while the Republican organizations brought in $705,624.

While six Democratic County organizations — those in Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, Passaic, Salem and Union counties — reported having more than $100,000 banked, no Republican organizations could boast the same.

With $89,991 banked, Passaic County Republicans were the wealthiest among their party.

Passaic Democrats had $298,669 in their war chest.

Democrats have also seen their cash reserves rise drop in fundraising. Their collective $1.6 million on hand is 25% higher than the groups had at this point in 2016, and they’ve spent nearly $1.6 million so far this year, about 9% more than they had at this point in 2016.

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