The 2018 midterm elections are well over a year away, but New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District race is already attracting attention and money.
A lot of money.
Incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur alone has raised over $1.37 million towards his re-election so far, including $1.13 million during the last quarter between April 1 and June 30, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports.
MacArthur’s quarter included $354,251 given to his regular campaign account and $776,350 raised in a new MacArthur Victory account created shortly before a June 11 fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, Somerset County, that featured President Donald Trump.
Both accounts reported a combined $926,485 in available cash-on-hand.
MacArthur, who earned national attention for taking on a leading role in crafting the GOP health care overhaul legislation, has already attracted three potential Democratic challengers.
Rhodes scholar Andy Kim, who served two years at the White House as director for Iraq and at the National Security Council, officially kicked off his campaign on June 19, and Katherine Hartman, a prominent attorney from Moorestown, announced her interest in running for the seat in May.
Fred LaVergne, a Delanco Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against MacArthur last year, has also said he intends to seek the seat again.
Among the three would-be challengers, only Kim had filed a quarterly report as of Friday’s deadline, according to the FEC.
Kim reported raising $117,236 during the quarter and spending $2,034, leaving him with $115,202 in cash on hand.
In a statement, the Evesham resident said the quarterly total reflected contributions he received during the 12 days between his official campaign announcement and the end of the quarter on June 30.
His contributors included the Cherry Hill law firm Malamut and Associates, and attorney Adam Malamut. Both the firm and Malamut contributed $2,700 each.
“I’m inspired by the 1,300 (individual) donations we’ve received in 12 days. What I’m most proud of is the extraordinary grassroots energy with 96 percent of our donations at $250 and under,” he said. “This is a strong signal that our message of putting the people first is resonating, and it’s clear that people want to hold Tom MacArthur accountable for his leading role in gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“While Tom MacArthur’s campaign strategy is to focus on big dollar fundraisers with President Trump and the wealthy few, we are working to build a movement focused on fixing our broken political system and raising the priorities of the people in the Jersey 3rd (District) and across this country,” Kim added.
MacArthur is credited with saving and helping to advance the health care legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives after it nearly sank earlier this year amid opposition from conservatives and moderates. The former insurance CEO, who was first elected to Congress in 2014, managed to negotiate a compromise amendment with the leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus that saved the legislation and led to its narrow approval in the House.
His work was praised by Trump during the June fundraiser in Bedminster, which the was the first personal fundraiser the president held for a member of Congress.
The event raised over $800,000 total, which was divided among MacArthur’s campaign, as well as the New Jersey Republican State Committee and the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.
The MacArthur Victory account reported paying $15,221 to Trump National Golf Club for hosting and catering the event. A copy of the invitation suggested donations ranging from $5,400 to $100,000 for a VIP photo opportunity with the president.
Among those who contributed to the new account were Jim Brennan, the CEO of Sea Box Inc. in Cinnaminson, who gave $25,000 and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who gave $2,500.
Ciattarelli’s contribution was reported on June 30 after he lost to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the Republicans’ gubernatorial primary.
Tina Carolan, a retired Mendham resident, contributed $100,000 to the MacArthur Victory account. She has contributed some $90,300 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee and other New Jersey Republican candidates and campaign funds since 1995, according to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission records. She also contributed $400 to Trump’s presidential campaign last year.
Other notable contributors to MacArthur during the last quarter were Moorestown banker Vernon Hill, executives Patrick and Robert Healey of Viking Yacht in Bass River, and Bill Palatucci, a close political advisor to Gov. Chris Christie, and George Gilmore, chairman of the Ocean County Republican Committee.
Chris Russell, a campaign consultant and spokesman for MacArthur’s campaign, said the congressman’s fundraising numbers reflect his strong leadership and willingness to take on tough issues.
“On both sides of the aisle, America needs leaders in Washington with backbone. People who are willing to confront the difficult problems facing our country, and then spend the political capital necessary to advance them in Congress,” Russell said. “People are sick and tired of politicians who base every single decision they make on what’s better for their political future, instead of what is better for the country’s future. Tom MacArthur didn’t run for Congress to decorate a fancy chair. His strong fundraising numbers are the direct result of people recognizing he is an emerging leader in our party locally and nationally who has the courage to take on tough fights and get things done.”
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