NJ-3’s Inconvenient Truth

I posted this to a closed Facebook group in NJ-3, and am cross-posting it here in hopes of a civil discussion of the state of politics today.


Some of the discussion here has ignored an inconvenient truth. In this District, one of the most difficult hurdles to winning a congressional election is the ability to raise money. This is true regardless of party, ideology, or a candidate’s charisma.

We are in two of the most expensive media markets without a ubiquitous indigenous media outlet to speak of. So campaign ads require paying New York City and Philadelphia rates.

Use of social media alone will not determine the winner.

Having been involved in campaigns here for the past several cycles, I think that it would require an incumbent to raise at least $2 million and a challenger twice that much. We have a diverse electorate and messaging must be well-crafted, well-targeted, and timely. Professional messaging is not cheap but is needed.

When Tom MacArthur beat Aimee Belgard in 2014, he had it easy. All he had to do was write his campaign a $5 million check and he inundated the airwaves and our mailboxes with his half-truths. Aimee raised almost $2 million, but that was not enough. Some argue that she was a flawed candidate, but having to spend 8 to 10 hours every day on the phone groveling for donations can take a toll.

So, my message here is that you not only need to support a candidate whose views resonate with you, but also you need to consider whether your candidate has the ability to raise the amount of money required.

For Tom MacArthur it’s easy. He is already misusing his franking privilege to send out campaign mailings. He can easily write another multi-million-dollar check to his campaign. And with the power of incumbency, he can also quickly get an infusion of money from his pals the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. Donald Trump held a fundraiser at his golf club and it netted TMac $800K from his one-percent friends.

Andy Kim has a steeper hill to climb. But his connections with the Obama alumni association give him fundraising creds throughout the country. He’ll have to rely on lots of small contributions, even though there are some big Democratic PACs that will undoubtedly help. Andy is off to a good start, having received donations from people in each of the 50 states.

Running for Congress in this District as a challenger is a full-time job. I’m glad that the Kim family has the wherewithal to do this – Andy’s wife is the sole breadwinner right now. Katy Hartman realized this inconvenient truth quickly, and it’s unfortunate that she had to drop out because she knew how steep this hill is.

If other candidates throw their hat into the ring, the first question you should ask is “How are you going to raise $4 million for your campaign.” If they can’t give you a satisfactory answer, you’re wasting your time with them. That’s sad, but until America finds a way to take money out of politics, it’s true.

Comments (3)

  1. Bill Orr

    You are right. It’s not so much an inconvenient truth as a simple reality. Gottheimer spent $4,651,351 to win against Garrett’s $4,346,516 in 2016. In addition “independent” spending on the race totaled $6.5 million, with 95 percent of it favoring Gottheimer. It’s expensive to take on an incumbent, particularly one who has been a long time in office, has wealthy donors, or who has independent wealth.

  2. Jeanine

    The irony, your truths are laid out the same time as the sister article on George Norcross. A priggish influence in the NJ Democratic election process.


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