Democratic and Republican county party committees entered a state election year with above-average coffers, according to year-end reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Democratic committees collectively reported cash reserves of $2.5 million as of December 31, 2022. That is 26 percent more than the nearly $2 million year-end average dating back to 2012.
Republicans as a group reported $622,636. That represents 12 percent more than the $555,822 average for the period.
“Cash in the bank is one key measure of political firepower,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director. “Both parties are starting the election year with solid reserves compared to past years.”
Along with many county and local elections, all 120 seats in the state Legislature are up for reelection in 2023. County parties perform many election-related tasks, including making contributions to candidates, voter turnout drives, polling and other functions.
The $3.1 million in combined cash reserves at the end of 2022 was well below the $4.2 million sum a year earlier. But it was 23 percent above the decade average of $2.5 million. Plus, cash leftover in 2021 was a record high. It followed an unusually large influx of checks from outside New Jersey that especially swelled Democratic coffers and seemed geared to prime the party committees for 2022 federal elections.
During 2022, Democrats raised and spent more than Republicans and reported larger cash reserves.
Federal election years feature regularly scheduled elections for president, U.S. Senate and/or the House of Representatives. State election years feature elections for governor and/or one or both state legislative houses. Some federal election years also include special state elections to fill vacancies and vice versa.
Last year was a federal election year with all 12 House seats up for reelection. County party committees typically raise and spend less money in federal years compared to state election years.
A comparison of 2022 campaign finance activity to the average for federal and state election years since 2012 bears this out. For instance, fundraising in 2022 was 29 percent below the average state election year since 2012 while spending was down 14 percent.
Compared to the average for all years, fundraising was 8 percent less though spending was 5 percent more.
Numbers were up compared to the average for federal years. Fundraising was 9 percent above average while spending was up 25 percent.
Cash reserves at the end of 2022 topped all three averages.
Among Democratic county committees that have filed their quarterly reports, seven committees- Camden, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset, and Union – reported cash balances above $100,000. Gloucester, Hudson and Warren committees reported negative balances adjusting for outstanding debts.
As for Republican county committees, Cape May County committee reported a cash balance above $100,000. Bergen, Camden and Morris committees reported negative balances adjusting for outstanding debts.
The numbers in this analysis are based on reports filed by noon February 3, 2023. They have yet to be verified by ELEC staff, and should be considered preliminary.
Individual reports can be reviewed on ELEC’s website