Spears, a running mate for mayor, and some others miss deadline for filing state campaign reports
With less than a month to go until the Nov. 2 election, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has compiled dozens of war chests to get his message across to the electorate. Lewis Spears is he a contender for the title? No one is certain.
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) released the 29-day pre-election fund-raising and spending reports for all local and legislative candidates Tuesday, but Spears and a number of local candidates missed the Oct. 4 reporting deadline.
Spears plans to file the paperwork on Wednesday, according to Michelle Lewis-Bellamy, Spies campaign manager. Lewis-Bellamy said the campaign has been in contact with ELEC officials.
Spears failure to follow election law is a betrayal of public trust, according to Phil Swibinski, spokesman for Fulops campaign. According to his latest report, the mayor has a campaign bankroll of $840,000, even after spending $176,000 since July.
Spears, on the other hand, was not the only one. The paperwork for the other independent and progressive city council candidates challenging the Fulop-backed slate Frank Gilmore and Vernon Richardson in Ward F and Danielle Freire in District D is also delayed.
Two incumbents, 33rd District Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro and 31st District Sen. Sandra Cunningham, both supported by the powerful Hudson County Democratic Organization, failed to file their paperwork on time. Cunningham, who was charged with DWI for allegedly driving while intoxicated in parked cars in Jersey City in March, enters the election still facing DWI charges, which she pleaded not guilty to.
Sylvia Burch, Gilmore's campaign treasurer'' spokesman, said she intended to file it Tuesday, after having mistakenly filed it in July. She did not explain why Gilmore failed to meet the Oct. 4 deadline. Freire said on Tuesday that shell begin filing paperwork this week.
Richardson and Chaparro did not give an explanation for the missing paperwork. A representative at Cunninghams office, who declined to divulge their name, insisted that Cunham's paperwork had been submitted, even though it was not posted on the ELEC site Tuesday.
This is really a baseline level of openness, Swibinski said, noting that candidates who did not complete their forms by the deadline will be disqualified from the election by the voters.
The missed deadline and the lack of campaign cash are two signs that these progressive challengers are facing an uphill battle against Team Fulop.
While the mayor has approximately $840,000 on hand, his council candidates At-large Councilmembers Joyce Watterman and Daniel Rivera and at-lature candidate Amy DeGise; Ward A Councilwoman Denisse Ridley; Ward B Councilperson Mira Prinz-Arey; and Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano; District D Council Member Yousaf Saleh; County E candidate Jake Hudnut;; as well as Ward F Council member Jermaine Robinson -- have
So far, Team Fulops competitors, including incumbent councilmembers Rolando Lavarro Jr. (at-large) and James Solomon (Ward E), have generally raised much less money.
Solomon, in a fierce contest with city municipal prosecutor Hudnut for the Downtown vote, has nearly $86,000, but the next-highest raising candidate, Joel Brooks, from Ward B, currently has almost $35,000. Tom Zuppa in Ward C is the next man at $24,000.
Lavarro, who did not announce his candidacy until late August, has just $13,000 on hand in his bid to secure one of three seats in a seven-person field that includes DeGise, the HCDO chairwoman and daughter of County Executive Tom DeGois.
Certains candidats' applications revealed even greater fundraising challenges. Chris Gadsdens campaign owes $5,225, while John Salierno's Ward D campaign reported no money raised at all as of Oct. 4.
By Oct. 4, political newcomer William Sampson IV had raised a net total of nearly $42,000 in statewide Assembly race, thanks to dozens of substantial contributions from various organized labor organizations. Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis handpicked the crane operator and longshoreman to run for Assemblys 31st District in March.
Swibinski said Fulop's campaign is focusing its cash on a "comprehensive" campaign that includes mail, outreach by volunteers, and advertisements on social media platforms like Facebook, which he has spent almost $7,500 on since July.
Instead of relying on fundraising, Challengers to Team Fulop are utilizing their social media platforms and public events like candidate forums to increase profiles and spread the word. Fulop and Spears will face off at the Hudson County Community College student center on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. until noon.