Gov. Chris Christie is expected to campaign for Republicans in Cape May County this week, providing a badly needed fund-raising boost to challengers with less than a month to go in the race.
Democrats have a nearly two-to-one advantage in fund-raising in the 1st Legislative District, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Christie will attend a fund-raiser Thursday at the Avalon Golf and Country Club in Middle Township for Republican state Senate candidate David DeWeese and his running mates, Assembly candidates Suzanne Walters and Sam Fiocchi.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and his running mates, Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam, raised $386,895 through Oct. 11, compared with $209,045 raised by Republicans.
“We fully anticipated they would spend two, to three, to maybe five times more than we would,” DeWeese said of his Democratic opponents.
Through Oct. 11, the Democrats had spent more of their campaign treasury. The Republicans combined had $179,000 remaining, compared with the Democrats’ $100,781.
Fund-raising in the 1st District so far pales in comparison to the $3.5 million Van Drew spent to unseat Republican state Sen. Nick Asselta in 2006. Republicans that year raised $1.5 million in the 1st District.
“This election isn’t about who’s spending more money. It’s about change,” DeWeese said. “They can spend all they want on TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads. At the end of the day, it’s about change, and that’s what we offer.”
Campaign spending in the 1st District also has been dwarfed by the more than $1.8 million being spent just north of Cape May County in the 2nd District races featuring a clash between state Sen. James Whelan and his Republican challenger, Assemblyman Vincent Polistina.
Van Drew said he thinks the 1st District race is being overshadowed by the one in Atlantic County. Van Drew said that is fine by him.
“I’ve been in enough highly volatile elections that were spotlighted,” he said. “That was never my choosing. It just happened. This year, the 2nd District race is the one that has been targeted by Democrats and Republicans. The Republican challenger believes he has a chance there.”
DeWeese said his campaign is getting plenty of statewide attention and support. And he thinks there will be a push this month by the Republican State Committee to help him win Nov. 8.
“We fully anticipate getting more support,” he said. “It’s an evaluation process. They look to see where everyone stands. They’ll see we’re right there. We fully anticipate we’ll win this. They’ve been there all the way, supporting us in mailers and other types of literature. We fully anticipate that will continue even stronger.”
DeWeese said he thinks the 1st District race will be the one worth talking about in southern New Jersey.
“I think we’ve been making more significant news than they are. There seems to be a lot of mudslinging going on in the 2nd District. That’s not happening down here. Everyone is discussing the issues,” DeWeese said. “I think we’ve provided them with that — a contrast with two completely different philosophies and points of view about how we should be moving forward.”
Van Drew’s donors included $2,000 from Vineland merchant Dave Guidarini; $2,400 from Ocean City Boardwalk amusement-park owner Scott Simpson; $5,000 from the Developers Political Action Committee; $12,000 from LaCosta Lounge in Sea Isle City; $3,600 from the New Jersey Apartment Association; $8,200 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union; $1,200 from B.L. England power-plant owner R.C. Cape May; and $2,000 from Lund’s Fisheries.
Van Drew donated $14,500 to support other candidates through the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
DeWeese, a former municipal-court judge, saw support from many southern New Jersey law firms along with state unions representing firefighters and police officers. He received $900 from Ocean City auditor Leon Costello; $3,600 from Pleasantville engineering firm Remington Vernick; $2,000 from Egg Harbor Township insurer Sean Gormley; $1,000 from Williamstown insurer Genarino Campanaro; and $3,000 from the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.
In the heavily Republican 9th Legislative District, Republicans have a more than 53-to-1 cash advantage.
The district includes southern Ocean and Burlington counties as well as Galloway Township, Port Republic and Brigantine in Atlantic County following this year’s redistricting.
Reports show the joint campaign committee for Democratic Senate candidate Dorothy A. Ryan and Assembly candidates Bradley Billhimer and Carla Kearney raised $3,040.
The committee had spent $1,685, leaving them $1,355 in the bank.
Three-person campaigns that spend less than $11,000 are below the threshold that requires the most detailed campaign-finance reports.
By comparison, reports showed their incumbent Republican opponents were flush.
The joint campaign committee for incumbent Republican Sen. Chris Connors and Assembly members Brian Rumpf and DiAnne C. Gove had raised $104,680 and spent $32,495, leaving it with $72,185 on hand.
Staff writer Donna Weaver contributed to this report.
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