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GOP governors group outspends Democrats in NJ’s gov race

October 29, 2021 GMT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The campaign arm of the national association for Republican governors has so far outspent their Democratic counterpart in New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest this year, state election officials said Friday.

The Republican Governors Association has spent about $3.8 million in New Jersey compared with $2.7 million for the Democratic Governors Association, according to the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission.

The state’s campaign finance regulators also said that spending from groups other than the campaigns themselves has broken previous records, reaching nearly $26 million so far in the general election. That’s up from a previous high of more than $15 million in the general election set four years ago.

The GOP’s robust spending comes as Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican former Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli enter the final days of New Jersey’s off-off-year gubernatorial contest.

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Murphy has led in all publicly available polls, and his campaign coffers are flush with about $3.5 million — compared with $685,000 for Ciattarelli. He also has the advantage of 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

But Ciattarelli has had more success raising money than his Republican predecessor four years ago and points to President Joe Biden’s falling approval ratings as evidence that Democrats are on their heels.

Murphy has spent nearly $12.6 million so far compared with $12.4 million for Ciattarelli. In total, Murphy has raised about $16 million while Ciattarelli has hauled in more than $13 million.

Murphy also faces two historical trends: No Democratic incumbent for governor has been reelected since 1977, and the party of the president has lost the governor’s race going back more than three decades.

Murphy is hyper aware of the trends and called them an “ animating ” factor for his campaign, which he says he’s running as if he’s “10 points behind.”

In the closing days of the campaign, Murphy has leaned heavily into the progressive agenda he enacted throughout his first term, including expanding state-financed pre-K and establishing a similar community college program, along with taxing income over $1 million, establishing paid sick leave and more.

On Thursday, Murphy appeared alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at a rally at Rutgers University where the many in attendance strained their voices cheering “Bernie, Bernie,” and cheering for the progressive platform the governor embraces.

Ciattarelli is also appearing at a number of rallies across the state. This week in Hazlet, in Murphy’s home county of Monmouth, Ciattarelli told a room of about 100 cheering supporters that there would be no “mandates” under his administration — a reference to masking and vaccine mandates.

On vaccines, Ciattarelli has said he backs Murphy’s decision to allow teachers and others to either be vaccinated or undergo COVID-19 testing. But he’s apparently at odds with Murphy’s requirement for masks in schools, which has been supported by teachers’ unions as well as health officials.