New Jersey House races generate $15 million in outside spending
Outside spending poured more than $15 million into New Jersey congressional races with one week remaining until Election Day, and Democratic and Republican groups split roughly equal shares of the bill.
Nearly half of the state’s outward spending has gone to the 7th congressional district, seen as the GOP’s best chance to overthrow one of ten seats held by Democrats in the state. Rep. Tom Malinowski faces a repeated challenge in the 7th from former state senator Tom Kean Jr.
Most outside expenses helped Kean. PACs, social welfare nonprofits and other groups said they spent nearly $7.2 million in the 7th Arrondissement. Of this amount, approximately $5.7 million was spent to benefit Kean.
As Republicans around the country fight to regain control of Congress after next week’s election, they see districts like New Jersey’s 7th as key to their efforts.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the independent spending arm of House Republicans, led spending in the district, pouring nearly $4.5 million into the contest. Much of that money went to television ads that hammered Malinowski for his voting record and failure to report stock trades in accordance with a congressional deadline.
The Republican National Congressional Committee added about $1 million to that pot, and Defend Us PAC added $142,394. Two nonpartisan groups, the Firefighters Support Association PAC and the National Association of Realtors PAC, put a total of $62,970 behind Kean.
Given history, the voluminous investment by Republican groups is hardly a surprise, said Ashley Koning, director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
“Kean was down a point two years ago, so this is a race where Republicans probably think they have a real shot, especially in the current political climate,” she said. “Especially with some of the stock trading stories that have come out about Malinowski.”
Malinowski, who saw himself dragged into a more Republican congressional district last year, faced widespread criticism after he failed to disclose stock trades according to congressional deadlines, a failure that fueled attacks accusing Corruption. The congressman has denied any wrongdoing and has since placed his assets in a blind trust.
Although Malinowski had more groups supporting him and opposing his opponent than any other state candidate, outside spending on behalf of the incumbent was a fraction of that supporting Kean.
The seven groups supporting the Democrat have invested just under $1.5 million in the race. Most of that money ($965,434) came from the House Majority PAC, the independent spending arm of the House Democratic leadership.
The Moderate Party’s Independent Fund, a super PAC funded by the House Majority PAC, has invested $245,215 and could spend up to $500,000. Malinowski touted his support for the fledgling moderate party as evidence of his ability to win bipartisan support, though the House Majority PAC party’s donation earned sneers from Republicans.
Unions have shown some support for the incumbent. The 1199 SEIU Federal Political Action Fund spent $120,939 on the race and the 32BJ American Dream Fund, $14,793.
The figures presented in this article are drawn from an analysis of raw and processed Federal Election Commission documents available for public review on Monday, October 31 and do not include expenditures reported after that date.
Independent spending is almost entirely one-sided in the 11th District, where two-term Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill has seen her campaign bolstered by $3.2 million in outside money.
VoteVets.org, a pro-veteran group that often aligns itself with Democrats, has invested more than $2.3 million in Sherrill’s campaign, the second-largest investment in a single New Jersey district. Sherrill is a former US Navy helicopter pilot.
The Shield PAC, an independent spending group boosting moderate Democrats, spent $458,215 supporting the incumbent, and another pro-moderate group, the Center Forward Committee, invested $50,000 for the same purpose.
The With Honor Fund, a nonpartisan group supporting military veterans for elected office, has invested $348,018 behind Sherrill.
Big-budget groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund have steered clear of New Jersey’s 5th and other congressional districts, limiting their New Jersey spending to just the 7th district. Representative Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in the 5th District against Republican Frank Pallotta.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise that we don’t see so many GOP dollars going to these other districts,” Koning said. “They know these are not districts to invest in because they’re probably not winnable.”
Independent spending groups all but ignored Sherrill’s Republican challenger Paul DeGroot. The Republican State Committee, which has invested between $15,120 and $30,240 in outside money in the 11th Precinct, is the GOP’s only source of outside money there.
The Republican State Committee’s total investment in the 11th District and others around the state is unclear due to apparent errors in their filings with the Federal Election Commission.
The story is similar in the 5th District, where New Jersey’s top-funded incumbent is getting an outside boost.
Independent spending groups have poured nearly $2.6 million into Gottheimer’s quest for a third term. Nearly $2 million of that amount comes from the House Majority PAC.
This investment – the one made in a candidate whose $13.7 million in reserves makes him one of the best-funded members of Congress in the country – was issued to the at the request of former billionaire presidential candidate Mike BloombergPolitico reported.
“I think the strategy here is to make these districts that are probably winnable even more winnable because we know if places like 11th and 3rd are lost to the Democrats, it’s going to be a pretty terrible night for them,” said Koning said.
Gottheimer received more measured support from the centre-forward, who threw $445,000 behind his offer.
By comparison, the independent spending behind Pallotta – who lost a bid to Gottheimer in 2020 – is less than a trickle. Outside groups have invested just $58,260 behind Pallotta, a former investment banker, and all of that money comes from LV Strong, a PAC run by Republican political and public affairs firm Eagle Consulting Group.
Republican challenger Bob Healey Jr. doesn’t face the external spending deficit scolding DeGroot and Pallotta.
Healey, a former punk rock frontman who is now the millionaire co-chairman of the Viking Yacht Group and related companies, has seen around $1.9 million in outside money put behind his back, all from Garden State Advance, a super PAC largely funded by a $2 million donation from his mother.
Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, by comparison, saw a paltry $172,562 in outside money put behind his campaign. Of this amount, $52,447 came from the House Majority PAC. It is by far the smallest investment the group has made in a New Jersey congressional district this year.
Two environmental groups, Climate Power Action and the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund, put a total of $109,341 behind Kim’s offer, and the Working Families Party National PAC put up $8,000.
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