With reports from six of 42 county party committees still outstanding, county parties as a group have
reported raising just $695,644 for the first three months of 2021, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, said it is surprising that during a major election year that a
number of county committees have not yet submitted reports. Reports from county party committees were due April 15.
“It is understandable that the pandemic has caused some difficulties for candidates and parties during the past year. But fund-raising by county party committees seemed to be improving during the second half of last year and it had been anticipated that financial activity would increase,” he said. “Missing reports make a difference.”
Two Democratic and four Republican county party committees still have not submitted their first quarter reports.
Brindle said candidates, party officials and treasurers are now able to file reports electronically, better
facilitating the filing of reports.
“The fact that ELEC now accepts all reports electronically will in the long run lead to better compliance.
It is my expectation that those county organizations that have not yet filed will do so quickly,” Brindle said.
Both the governor’s seat and all 120 legislative posts are up for election this year along with dozens of
county offices. County parties often are involved with both state and county elections, particularly in get-out-the vote efforts.
Like other candidates and committees, county parties receive reminders of filing deadlines. ELEC also
can fine committees that file late.
But Brindle emphasized that New Jerseys campaign finance reporting system largely relies on voluntary
compliance and compliance generally tops 90 percent or more. Eight-six percent of county parties have filed their first quarter reports so far.
Even with six reports still missing, county party committees are heading into an election year sitting on
sizeable cash reserves- nearly $2.7 million. That is the second largest total in two decades not adjusting for inflation.
With the governor’s seat in contention this year, there also is the possibility that the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and/or the Republican Governors Association (RGA) will be sending large checks to county parties this year to assist on the campaign. This year, Governor Phil Murphy is running for reelection, He also is the finance chairman for DGA.
While both governors associations have run political ad campaigns and contributed to gubernatorial
candidates during several New Jersey elections, the DGA more recently steered funds to Democratic county party committees.
In 2017, DGA doled out $703,000 to Democratic county party committees. RGA last sent checks to
Republican county parties in 2005. The total was $522,000.
Among party committees that have filed their reports, Democrats hold a more than five-to-one advantage over Republicans in cash reserves. The edge is smaller when debts owed to or by counties are factored in.
Among Democratic counties, Essex and Morris counties have yet to file their first quarter reports.
Of those in compliance, eight Democratic county party committees – Bergen, Burlington, Camden,
Gloucester, Mercer, Passaic, Salem, and Union- reported cash reserves above $100,000 for the quarter.
Hudson County reported a negative net worth due to outstanding debts.
Among Republican counties, Cape May, Passaic, Salem and Somerset Counties have yet to file their first
quarter reports. No Republican county party committees that have filed a report showed a cash reserve larger than $100,000.
Burlington reported a net worth of more than $100,000 since it is owed money by others.