Christie’s Party Leads N.J. Democrats in Election Funds

New Jersey’s state Republican campaign-finance committees outraised their Democratic counterparts in the first quarter as Governor Chris Christie and all 120 legislators seek re-election in November.

The three major Republican groups collected $810,923 to the Democrats’ $653,110, according to a report by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Republicans had $1.47 million of cash on hand as of March 31, while Democrats had $1.09 million.

Republican fundraising has more than tripled since 2009, when Christie defeated incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. co-chairman, multimillionaire and major political contributor. With Corzine out of New Jersey politics, Democratic fundraising has dropped by more than half since the last governor’s race four years ago, the commission said.

While the parties’ combined reserve is up from the same point last year, it is down from 2009, and is the smallest for a year in which a governor will be elected since at least 2001. Jeffrey Brindle, the commission’s executive director, attributed the decline to tightened contribution limits for public contractors and lingering effects of the recession that ended in June 2009.

Record Cash

Donors also may be giving more to outside groups, which don’t have to identify their income sources, rather than to committees whose finances are publicly disclosed, Brindle said.

Christie himself, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, is raising record cash for his New Jersey re-election attempt. Through Dec. 31, before Democrats had rallied around a challenger, he had amassed $2.1 million, almost as much as he had raised in the 2009 primary. He has since been raising money out of state, with an event in February at Facebook Inc. co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s California home and an appearance in March in Wisconsin with Governor Scott Walker.

First-quarter finance reports for Christie and his Democratic challenger, state Senator Barbara Buono from Metuchen, will be released May 13. Through Dec. 31, Buono had raised $215,000.

Christie, enjoying record approval ratings for his response to Hurricane Sandy, led Buono by 30 percentage points in an April 12 poll by the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Corzine hasn’t made a donation to New Jersey political campaigns since March 2011, according to election records.