3 N.J. gubernatorial candidates qualify for up to $4 million in public primary campaign funds

 Three gubernatorial candidates who have their sights set on New Jersey's Statehouse next governor have qualified for matching funds from the state. (AP file photo)

Three gubernatorial candidates who have their sights set on New Jersey's Statehouse next governor have qualified for matching funds from the state. (AP file photo)

So far three of the candidates who want to be New Jersey’s next governor have raised enough money to qualify for matching funds.

After gubernatorial candidates meet the threshold of raising and spending $430,000 to qualify for the state program, they can get $2 in public matching funds for every private dollar they raise.

The program has a $4 million limit on public funds for a primary election campaign and a $9.3 million cap for the general election.

The public funds allow qualified candidates to mount competitive campaigns and help produce issue-oriented and scandal-free elections, said Jeff Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

“Certainly, one of the benefits these days is when you have so much of this independent spending, the public financing is more valuable than ever because it helps to offset some of the influence of independent expenditure groups,” he said.

Since the program began 40 years ago, Brindle said, 69 candidates have received $117 million in public matching funds.

“The program has enabled three Republicans and three Democrats to win the office of governor and, in some cases, helped them win re-election,” he said.

Money for the matching funds comes from voluntary check-off contributions on state income tax forms and from the state’s general fund.

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