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Democrats running for Congress see fundraising spike

April 21, 2018

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Democrats running in this year’s U.S. House and Senate campaigns are seeing their fundraising efforts swelling their coffers.

Federal Election Commission records analyzed by the Associated Press show the Democrats challenging Republican incumbents in two districts raised more in the first quarter this year than their GOP adversaries. Another Democrat running to succeed a retiring Republican broke the $1 million mark, dwarfing her potential Republican challengers.

A bright spot for Republicans is Senate candidate Bob Hugin, the former executive of biopharmaceutical firm Celgene. He loaned his campaign $7.5 million against Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez. Nineteen-term incumbent Republican Chris Smith also raised more than the two Democrats vying to challenge him in November.

The fundraising surge comes as Democrats nationally are hoping to exploit Republican President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings, particularly in New Jersey.

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said Republicans are likely being prudent with their campaign contributions at this stage. The party of the president typically loses seats in midterm elections.

“Nationally, Republicans are on their heels” in some congressional districts “and also face a disproportionate number of congressional retirements, and so I think national GOP donors are being prudent with their money,” Harrison said.

A Monmouth University poll this week showed Democrats in New Jersey with a 19-point advantage over Republicans, with 54 percent of registered voters saying they would vote or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate in their district compared with 35 percent supporting the Republican.

The poll surveyed 632 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Democrats control seven and Republicans five of the state’s House seats. Menendez and Democrat Cory Booker hold the state’s two Senate seats. All the House seats and Menendez’s Senate seat are up for election Nov. 6. The primary is June 5.

Candidates filed their first-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month.

A closer look at how fundraising is shaping up:

SENATE: Menendez, a two-term incumbent, raised about $1.5 million through March 31 and has about $5.4 million in cash in the bank. Hugin, a newcomer to campaigns who has never held office but had been a donor before, is promising to invest heavily in his effort to unseat his fellow Hudson County native. He’s already given his campaign a $7.5 million loan and is expected to write further checks. Hugin has roughly $6.8 million cash on hand, and in addition to his loan raised more than $350,000.

2nd DISTRICT: Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s decision to retire led to Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew jumping into the House race. Van Drew has raised more than any of this Democratic or Republican challengers, hauling in more than $400,000 in the first quarter. Republican Hirsh Singh, a failed GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2017, raised $109,000. Southern New Jersey’s 2nd District spans eight counties and includes Atlantic City.

3RD DISTRICT: The southern New Jersey district spans the Pinelands and runs from the Philadelphia suburbs along the Delaware River in the west to the Ocean County shoreline. Incumbent Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur brought in about $302,000, compared with $530,000 for Democrat Andy Kim, who was a national security aide to former President Barack Obama.

4th DISTRICT: Smith, who’s represented New Jersey in the House since 1981, hauled in about $260,000 in the first quarter, besting the fundraising from Democrats Josh Welle and Jim Keady, who are vying for the Democratic nomination. Together they brought in about $200,000. The district includes suburban Trenton and parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

5th DISTRICT: Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer two years ago defeated Republican incumbent Scott Garrett, who won re-election seven times in the northern New Jersey district. Gottheimer brought in $750,000 in the first quarter, besting potential GOP rivals Steve Lonegan, who raised about $130,000, and John McCann, who brought in $33,000.

7th DISTRICT: Republican incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance raised $316,000 compared with $479,000 hauled in by former Obama administration State Department official Tom Malinowski, a Democrat. Lance has about $850,000 on hand, while Malinowski reported about $740,000.

11th DISTRICT: Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former federal prosecutor and Navy pilot, raised more than $1 million in her effort to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen in the northern New Jersey district. She’s outpacing the four Democrats and five Republicans also pursuing the seat. Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber raised nearly $235,000, and GOP candidate Antony Ghee brought in about $65,000.

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