In a late general election year move, a Democratic-affiliated PAC this past week rained dollars into LD2 to boost state Senator Colin Bell while simultaneously shoring up Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) as a South Jersey leadership brand.
One source said the allocation totaled around $500K.
Essentially the ad, which is set to begin running at the beginning of the week, accomplishes two things at once – or actually three things.
While focusing on Bell, who’s in a dogfight with Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) for the senate seat previously held by the late Jim Whelan, the ad is said to feature a positive line about Sweeney, thereby stretching a net toward those LD3 voters who may chance to see it while in the heavily trafficked, Atlantic City-centered LD2. A Democratic source noted to InsiderNJ that Republican pro-Bell ads have corralled Sweeney into the bullring and are riding roughshod on Bell by way of his association with the powerful South Jersey senate president. The ad is as much a way to mud-guard Sweeney against the splash of those attacks as it is simple opportunism to latch onto Bell regionally, the source argued.
There’s a larger dynamic for Monmouth Republicans.
Throughout the season, LD11 and LD2 have competed for attention as that prime Democratic Party destination for resources.
Republican sources interpret the ad buy as a chance to spike the football on businessman Vin Gopal, the former Monmouth County Democratic Committee chairman who’s running against state Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) in a battleground election contest. In self-protection mode and eager to boost his own chances in the entire South Jersey region while attempting to fend off the heavily moneyed New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), Sweeney chose to go heavily into LD2 instead of LD11. Playing in LD11 does nothing for the bicorn-hat wearing Sweeney’s own flank. But Gopal allies note the stepped-up fundraising presence of state Senator Nick Scutari (D-22), the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Sweeney ally – and the presence today in the district of an anti-Beck independent expenditure radio ad.