A Tale Of Two Campaign Machines In New Jersey’s Second District

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This article was updated on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to include contributions disclosed in late-breaking 48-hour notices, as well as comments from the Democratic campaign (bottom four paragraphs).

The Democrat and Republican machines vying for control of the Atlantic City area worked up until the last minute of the election, spending big and seeking more contributions in the third-most expensive race in the state this year. A state senate seat and two assembly seats are up for grabs and a poll released by Stockton University on Friday showed the Republicans with a small lead in the closely-fought contest.

There are big differences in how the two campaigns are being financed, however, according to an exclusive Route 40 analysis of public campaign records. The Democratic candidates are receiving most of their funding from other state candidates’ coffers and special interest groups. The Republican candidates, meanwhile, have received more contributions from individuals in the Atlantic County area, but are lagging when it comes to big committee support.

The Democrats’ campaigns for  New Jersey’s second district seats have been backed, as widely expected before election season got underway, by a powerful South Jersey campaign-finance machine. Contributions to the Dems’ LD2 campaigns have come from the fundraising efforts of more than a dozen other South Jersey politicians, including Assemblyman Louis Greenwald in Voorhees ($24,600) and Sen. Jim Beech in Cherry Hill ($24,600). The Atlantic County Democratic Committee itself has kicked in more than a quarter of a million dollars. In contrast, the Republican campaigns for LD2’s assembly and senate seats have been bolstered by $185,000 in contributions from the Senate Republican Majority committee and just shy of $10,000 from the Atlantic County Republican Committee.

The analysis also shows that the Republican candidates have received more large (greater than $300) contributions from towns within the second legislative district than the Democratic candidates. Republicans have received $143,000 in large contributions from within LD2 (primarily Atlantic City, Linwood, Northfield and Margate), while the Democrats have raised just $54,000 from the district. LD2 includes most of Atlantic County, but it does not include Galloway Township, Port Republic, Estell Manor and Corbin City.

You can download our data sheets for $10 here (Route 40’s Supporting Members receive free data downloads – please email us for a copy of the spreadsheet). Proceeds from data sales help support Route 40’s running costs.

The Stockton University poll puts the Republican campaign, fronted by Chris Brown with running mates Brenda Taube and Vincent Sera, 3 points ahead of the Democratic campaign, led by Colin Bell with Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato seeking assembly seats.

Click through below to search our interactive map of contributions to each campaign, mapped by the address of contributor. The map reflects all contributions recorded in public campaign filings through Friday Nov. 3. It does not reflect contributions for amounts smaller than $300, which are not required to be disclosed by name or address.

View a larger version of LD2 Campaign Contributions created with eSpatial mapping software.

This election across the state has been marked by an increase in “special interest” campaign funding, noted the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission earlier this week. The tables below rank the biggest committee or PAC contributors to each party in LD2, excluding party committees.

PAC nameAmount Contributed
Communications Workers of America $25,600.00
NJEA PAC $10,200.00
NJ Association For Justice $8,200.00
Local 152 United Food & Commercial Workers PAC $8,200.00
Blue PAC
PAC NameAmount Contributed
IBEW, Local 456 Cope Fund$41,000.00
NRCC-Carpenters Non Partisan PEC $24,600.00
IUOE, Local 825 $16,400.00
NJ Association For Justice $10,700.00
NJ State Laborers' PAC $8,200.00

The New Jersey Education Association, a long-time big spender in state elections, has been funding more Republican campaigns this year after a fight over pension payments with Senate President Steve Sweeney in New Jersey’s third district. But combing through the filings on Friday revealed that the NJEA has also made two small contributions to the LD2 Democratic campaigns in recent weeks.

Most of the NJEA’s contributions have been funnelled through Garden State Forward, an independent special-interest committee that has been funding multiple television ads and mailers for the Brown campaign (as found here) as well as in the third district. Garden State Forward is not subject to the same disclosure requirements as the party committees, so it is hard to see the details of where its money is coming from or how it is being spent. The most recent filing from the group showed it had spent $5.7 million in this general election period. In a recent press release, New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) estimated about 86 percent of Garden State Forward’s spending had been directed to the 3rd district. That would mean about $800,000 was spent in the 2nd district and other campaigns. The Brown campaign did not immediately respond to questions about campaign funding on Tuesday morning.

The Bell campaign said that it is important to take into account both the independent expenditures and in-kind contributions. Officials for the Democrats’ campaign noted that another independent group, South Jersey Families First, has spent money on the Brown campaign. That group has not disclosed any NJ ELEC filings.

When the in-kind contributions are included in the total campaign funding for both parties, almost $3 million has been raised through Tuesday. The second district Democrats have received more than $700,000 in in-kind contributions, mostly from the NJ State Democratic Committee. The Republicans in the second district have received almost $250,000 in-kind contributions, mostly from the New Jersey Republican State Committee.

Bell’s campaign manager Colston Reid said that the follow-the-money approach does not tell a complete story. It is important to note, Reid said, that Bell’s positions have been at direct odds with other South Jersey democrats.  Bell is against county policing, expanding gaming and privatizing Atlantic City’s water authority, Reid said, noting those  positions put Bell at odds with South Jersey’s Democratic powerbroker George Norcross.

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