The polls have been slightly closer, the first debate had no clear winner, but there’s one measure by which New Jersey’s governor’s race isn’t a contest – fundraising.

Democratic nominee Phil Murphy has had 3.5 times more financial resources than Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, according to campaign-finance reports issued Thursday, which were then followed by the award of another round of public matching funds,

Murphy has raised nearly $4 million in private donations, which combined with the state’s $2-for-$1 matching funds for qualified candidates means he has collected almost $11.4 million for his campaign. Guadagno has raised $1.2 million, leading to $3.3 million total.

Monmouth University political scientist Patrick Murray said Guadagno isn’t done raising money but has less than four weeks to get the cash, the match and expensive ads up on New York and Philadelphia television.

“I think she will get some additional fundraising,” Murray said. “The big question is just that she’s so far behind that I don’t think that it could be enough.”

As of Monday, Murphy had $5.4 million in the bank. Factoring in bills not yet paid, Guadagno’s campaign had a net worth of $850,000.

Those figures were supplemented by additional matching funds approved Thursday by ELEC: $1.1 million for Murphy and $315,000 for Guadagno.

The additional public funds leave Guadagno with about $700,000 in that portion of her campaign account, which is the section generally used to pay for TV ads.

Guadagno’s campaign saw an opening after Tuesday’s debate, releasing a TV ad the next day attacking Phil Murphy for saying he’d designate New Jersey a sanctuary state. But she doesn’t have nearly the needed money available to get through to enough voters, Murray said.

“They said that this ad that they came out with is a TV ad. The only way you’re going to see this on TV is if you’ve got, like, the YouTube widget on your TV set,” Murray said. “There’s no way they can pay the amount of money that need to put this on the air.”

In the murky campaign-finance rules of 2017, the candidates’ filings tell only part of the story.

Both the Republican and Democratic Governors Associations have run TV ads attacking the opposing party’s candidate – but there’s no disclosure of their spending, because state law doesn’t require it for ads tied to issues, rather than directly to the election.

The committees will next disclose their activity to the IRS in January.

Gov. Chris Christie says he has helped Guadagno by raising funds for the RGA, which he led in 2014.

“I’ve raised over $2 million now for the RGA, and I think you’ve seen the fruits of some of that labor in some of the advertisement that’s going on by the RGA in the state,” Christie said.

Murray said even that amount probably isn’t enough to help Guadagno.

“You think you hear you’ve got $2 million, $3 million, and that’s a lot of money,” he said. “But in the New York and Philadelphia markets, that buys you next to nothing in terms of the kind of exposure that you need to break through the noise that’s happening right now in politics.”

Two independent committees backing Democratic nominee Phil Murphy have raised $1.1 million for the general election and have so far spent around $200,000.

Five independent and third-party candidates for governor will also be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

None raised enough money to qualify for matching funds under state law, but two have been fundraising. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Green Party collected $89,510 in donations. Independent Gina Genovese reported $51,643.

To receive the full amount of public matching funds, $9.3 million, a candidate would have to raise around $4.8 million from private donors. The maximum contribution is $4,300.

Candidates in the matching-fund program agree to cap their spending at $13.8 million, with a few exceptions.

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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