It's The Money Stupid
Bergen County Democrats had their biggest spending spree ever last year, shelling out more than $4.2 million on their way to sweeping last fall's county elections.
Bergen Republicans, who lost two seats on the Freeholder Board as well as the county sheriff's office, spent less than $700,000, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
"We run aggressive campaigns," said Bergen Democrats spokesman Bill Maer. "They're well-financed. It's no accident the citizens of Bergen County have supported our candidates."
Much of that financing came from the pockets of companies that get work from the Democratic-controlled county government - or from political committees that get their money from such companies - despite last year's executive order from former Gov. James E. McGreevey that aimed to curb the practice known as "pay to play."
The cash helped Democrats flood network TV affiliates and local radio stations with negative advertisements that hammered Republican Sheriff Joel Trella and GOP Freeholder Richard Mola. The county GOP organization, which spent less than a quarter-million dollars during the final month of the campaign, was virtually invisible during the Democrats' multimillion-dollar advertising blitz.
"You can distort the facts and then run it again and again on TV and radio, and the people believe it," said Bergen Republican Chairman Guy Talarico. "All this is to buy jobs and contracts," Talarico said of the Democrats' fund raising. "It's not about public policy, that's for sure."