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Christie Maintains Fundraising Juggernaut In Re-Election Bid

Challenger Barbara Buono Has Raised Less Than $1.9 Million So Far
St. Sen. Barbara Buono and Gov. Chris Christie (credits: Barbara Buono for NJ, Tim Larsen / Governor's Office)

St. Sen. Barbara Buono and Gov. Chris Christie (credits: Barbara Buono for NJ, Tim Larsen / Governor’s Office)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono’s campaign fundraising in her bid to be governor lags so badly that without a major push in the next four weeks, she risks not maximizing state matching money in her run against Gov. Chris Christie.

On Monday, Buono, a Democrat, had reported raising “just under” $1.9 million, an amount that includes $1.1 million in matching funds.

To be able to spend the maximum of $5.6 million on the June 4 primary, she must get close to $1.2 million more from donors. That’s more in just over one month than she was able to raise in four.

The slow fundraising has a real impact on the way the election is playing out. While Christie’s campaign, which says it has raised $6.2 million so far, has spent more than $1 million on TV ads, Buono is posting videos online.

While Buono is speaking regularly, criticizing Christie’s economic and social policies, she’s not well known. A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll last month found 7 in 10 voters did not have an opinion about her. Her campaign is regularly emailing supporters with pleas for donations, including one that was sent Monday.

In a statement Monday, Buono’s campaign spokesman David Turner downplayed how little Buono has been able to raise. “Our campaign is going to have the resources necessary to communicate her vision for a New Jersey where everyone has the same chance at success,” he said.

Christie has enjoyed strong re-election support since superstorm Sandy hit, due in large part to his handling of the immediate aftermath and the recovery effort.

Many polls in the six months since Sandy hit have shown a majority of voters on both sides of the aisle think the governor deserves a second term in office.

For the general election, candidates who receive a public match can spend $12.2 million, but they must raise $4 million on their own to get the full match.

For politics watchers, Buono’s scramble for money adds an element of intrigue otherwise absent from the primary election.

While other candidates are on the ballot, neither she nor Christie is facing high-profile competition.

Christie on Monday released selected key figures from a campaign finance filing due later that day, including that he’s raised $6.2 million for the primary. His campaign said that 85 percent of the money came from New Jersey donors, but that contributions came from all 50 states.

Buono’s campaign did not release details Monday afternoon from her filing.

Both reports are to be made public in their entirety next week by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

New Jersey has had public financing of gubernatorial primaries since 1981.

Since then, several candidates have been unable to raise enough to get the maximum state match. But never has a candidate who took public money failed to get the maximum match and still won a primary, or general election.

The last time a major-party candidate in the general election could not get the full matching amount was in 1985, when Democrat Peter Shapiro fell just short of getting the maximum money in his run against popular Republican incumbent Thomas Kean Sr., who was re-elected by 70 percent of the vote.

Christie is forgoing public financing for his re-election bid and faces no legal limits on his spending. Four years ago, when he did accept public money, Christie qualified for the full primary match on May 8.

His fundraising at this point is more than double what Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine had brought in at the same point in 2009. But there was a major difference: Corzine’s race was mostly self-funded and he made contributions as he needed them rather than in advance.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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