POLITICS
07/24/2013 04:47 pm ET Updated Jul 25, 2013

Barbara Buono Hasn't Filed For Matching Funds In New Jersey Governor's Race

New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono's campaign is citing burdensome paperwork requirements as the reason it has missed four deadlines to file for matching state funding.

Buono did not submit a request Tuesday to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to receive matching funds -- the fourth time she has not made a request for the general election campaign. Under state law, Buono cannot make a request until she has raised $380,000 for the general election, but exact details of her fundraising have not been revealed. Buono did receive matching funds during the primary, but had to return all unspent state money to ELEC following the election. PolitickerNJ.com first reported Buono's lack of filing on Tuesday.

Buono campaign spokesman David Turner said the campaign has not filed largely due to the bureaucracy of filing for online contributions and is not reflective of fundraising. He declined to say how much Buono has raised, citing a policy of not discussing fundraising outside of campaign finance reports. Buono's next campaign finance report is due to ELEC in October; the next matching funds filing deadline is Aug. 6.

"We got a number of online contributions, particularly after the DOMA decision," Turner told HuffPost. "We are preparing the paperwork to make sure we get as close to the total as we can."

Under state law, gubernatorial candidates who participate in the program are eligible for 2-to-1 matching funds with a maximum state payout of $8.2 million for a general election. ELEC spokesman Joe Donohue was unsure if Buono has waited longer to file than past candidates since the program was created in 1977. Several candidates in the past have declined matching funds, including former Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in 2009 and 2005, and 2005 Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Forrester, who both self-financed.

Gov Chris Christie (R), a fundraising powerhouse, has not indicated if he will accept matching funds. Those who accept public funds cannot spend more than $12.2 million on their campaign.

John Weingart, the associate director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University, told HuffPost that he cannot remember a gubernatorial candidate waiting this long to file for matching funds. "It is fair to say that she is in worse shape midsummer than other gubernatorial campaigns that I can remember," Weingart said.

While Buono has consistently trailed Christie in the polls and has struggled to hold the Democratic Party together -- 37 Democratic elected officials endorse the Republican -- New School political science professor Jeff Smith said Buono should have hit $380,000 by now. Smith, a former Democratic Missouri state senator who now lives in New Jersey, said that while the incumbent is popular, an anti-Christie population exists.

"It would be absurd if she has not raised $380,000 for the general," Smith told HuffPost. "That's not a high amount for a governor's race, especially against someone who has been a lightening rod on key issues."

Buono is continuing her grassroots tour of New Jersey, including a stop in the Republican bastion of Westfield Wednesday evening to run in the annual Downtown Westfield 5K, the second stop in her "Barbara Runs New Jersey" tour. The annual event draws several thousand people from around the state to the Union County suburb. Westfield is home to many members of the state's Republican establishment, including several of Christie's top political advisers.

Buono is also slated to choose a lieutenant governor by Monday's deadline. Among the names that have circulated are Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley, Logan Township Mayor Frank Minor, Montclair Councilman Sean Spiller and Union County Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) is seeking reelection on Christie's ticket.

Buono on Tuesday declined to tell HuffPost who is on her shortlist. "We're narrowing it down," she said.

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