Washington lawmakers are spending 2023 making sure their war chests are ready for their North Jersey campaigns in 2024 as incumbents combine raised almost $6 million in the most recent quarter.
When the second quarter fundraising numbers were recently released, it showed that Sen. Bob Menendez raised just under $1.6 million for the quarter—a half million more than last quarter. The three-term Democrat has $7.8 million war chest ahead of next year’s U.S. Senate elections, which has him 17th overall for those seeking office in the Senate in 2024
Sen. Menendez is opposed in the Dem primary by newcomers Christina Khalil and Kyle Jasey—the Federal Elections Commission website did not have fundraising information for either candidate.
GOP Challenge to Sen. Menendez
Currently, there is no notable name running for the GOP nomination although that may change after the 2023 State Senate and Assembly elections and if there are any developments into the federal investigation that involves Menendez.
Immigration consultant Shirley Maia-Cusick formally launched her campaign and has raised $203,000, though most of that came as a loan from herself. Two other Republicans, Daniel Cruz and Gregg Mele, have announced Senate campaigns but have yet to file any campaign finance reports.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer continues to raise huge sums of campaign cash, raking in $1.2 million during the 2nd quarter. Gottheimer now sits on a $15.1 million war chest for what has become a relatively safe seat since redistricting.
Similarly, the 11th Congressional district is considered a Democratic stronghold after Rep. Mikie Sherrill won by nearly 20 percentage points in 2022. Sherrill hauled in $552,000 during the second quarter and has available $1.2 million to defend her seat.
Gottheimer and Sherrill have both been rumored to be eyeing a run for governor in 2025 and can use the funds they raise for Congress if they look to run statewide.
Kean’s War Chest
Nationally, both Republicans and Democrats have again set their sights on the 7th Congressional District. Rep. Tom Kean Jr., after two cycles of challenging Tom Malinowski for the seats, will be defending it. And according to his camp, Kean had the largest haul ever by a freshman New Jersey representative in their second fundraising quarter, receiving $860,000 in donations, besting Gottheimer’s $831,000 in 2017.
Kean now has nearly $1.5 million in the bank for North Jersey’s only true swing district.
The field for Democrats is beginning to take shape after Malinowski announced he would not seek another contest against Kean.
Dem’s 7th Heaven
The first to jump in is former Working Families Party state director Sue Altman, who raised an estimated $217,000 in her first month as a candidate. Altman announced her bid for Congress on May 31, giving her just four weeks to raise money before the end of the second quarter. She currently has $194,00 cash-on-hand with over 70% of Altman’s donors are from New Jersey and 60% giving less than $100, evidence of a steady grassroots ground game, according to her campaign.
Altman’s entrance has not cleared the field, however. After deciding to bypass a primary battle with Sen. Menendez, Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello III announced he would attempt to be the party’s nominee for the House seat. His Senate account reported raising $60,000 last quarter and now has $86,000 on-hand.
Three other House incumbents—Reps. Rob Menendez, Bill Pascrell, and Donald Payne—have not produced the numbers they did compared to the 2022 campaign as they represent some of the bluests seats in North Jersey. Rep. Menendez raised $61,000 in the second quarter of 2023 and has $234,000 on-hand. In the race to replace Albio Sires last year, he raised a total of $1.3 million.
Pascrell, who declared that he will run for a 14th term at the age of 87 next year, has $1.4 million in the bank after raising $138,000 this quarter. As for Payne, he raised $72,000 this quarter but only $46,000 on-hand.
Fulop, Booker Numbers
Two other North Jersey politicos not running for office in 2024 reported significant campaign fund raising.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, the only Democrat to formally announce he’s running for governor in 2025, raised $2.2 million in his first quarter as a candidate. That amount sets a record for the most money raised in their first three months by any non-incumbent, non-self-funding gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey history.
Despite not being on the ballot for another three years, Sen. Cory Booker raised $1.4 million during the second quarter of 2023 and now has $10.2 million for his next race.