Spending in NJ gov race about even, but Murphy banks more
TRENTON -- New Jersey's Republican candidate for governor Jack Ciattarelli has nearly matched incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy's spending in the election so far, though the governor has about five times more cash on hand going into the final week of campaigning.
Ciattarelli has spent about $12.4 million so far with Murphy expending nearly $12.6 million, according to the latest data from the Election Law Enforcement Commission. Murphy as $3.5 million cash on hand compared with nearly $700,000 for Ciattarelli. The governor has brought in more than $16 million compared with $13.1 million for Ciattarelli in the period between the June primary and Oct. 19.
The Election Law Enforcement Commission released the new figures on Monday.
Compared with data from a similar point in the governor's race four years ago, spending has climbed from about $13 million then to $25 million this year. While Murphy had led in polls, he insists he's running as if he's 10 points behind.
There's at least one big, new factor. Murphy's opponent then was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, former GOP Gov. Chris Christie's top deputy. She carried an association with the two-term governor whose approval ratings had dipped greatly and ran a year after former President Donald Trump lost the state decisively.
Murphy also has a record to run on now, prominently featuring his handling of COVID-19, which polls have shown many residents approve of.
Ciattarelli has focused much of his campaign on property taxes, which run about $9,100 a year on average in New Jersey. He says he wants to rewrite how school funding is allocated to lower rates.
Murphy answers by pointing out he's increased spending on school aid dramatically since taking office, which also decreases pressure on local school boards to raise property taxes.
About 82% of Murphy's contributors are from New Jersey, with the rest spread across other states. New York is the largest among those. The lion's share of contributions have been in the $2,000-$5,000 range, according to ELEC.
Ciattarelli's donors have come overwhelmingly from New Jersey at 97%. A plurality of his contributions fall in the $200-$500 range.
Voters are already casting ballots in the race. Early in-person voting began for the first time this year over the weekend and runs through Halloween. Mail-in ballots are also streaming into county offices.
Election Day is Nov. 2.
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