Spadea Camp challenges Politico story’s premise that it’s not helping NJGOP candidates

It seems there’s no escaping Election 2025 even though we have two full cycles standing between us and the next Garden State gubernatorial contest.

This past spring’s vicious primary contests deepened divisions between two emerging rival factions within the state party. The latest: Politico-New Jersey‘s Matt Friedman (famously not a Bill Spadea fan) lobbed a missile at the NJ 101.5 radio host and his affiliated political entities this week, Save Jerseyans; according to Friedman’s piece published on Thursday, Elect Common Sense (ECS) and Common Sense Wins (CSW) “campaign finance records released this month show that while Spadea’s two groups have spent nearly all the money they’ve raised, less than one percent has gone to help Republican candidates and organizations. Instead, the bulk has paid for fundraising expenses as well as political consultants.”

Recently, Friedman also needled Spadea and his lead backer (Ocean GOP Chairman George Gilmore) for finding common cause with State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11), a top Republican target in 2023. Spadea’s seemingly strong relationship with Gopal, author of some of the Murphy Administration’s more radical anti-parental rights policies, has served as a cause of great frustration for many Republicans invested in the 2023 legislative campaign effort.

The consultant-in-chief for Spadea’s rival Jack Ciattarelli seized upon Politico‘s new reporting and fired at the opposing 2025 operation with both barrels.

“No surprise: @BillSpadea is all about Bill Spadea,” tweeted Chris Russell. “Less than 1% of $$$ he raised went to GOP candidates, while 99% went to consultants. Spent $230k to raise $250k! Is available? FYI: @Jack4NJ outpaced Spadea 40-to-1 on $$$ to GOP candidates & orgs.”

Both men (Spadea and Ciattarelli) are busily criss-crossing the state on a daily basis, kissing babies and pressing flesh and diners, GOP headquarters and golf course outings across the state. After years of New Jersey Republican atrophy due in large part to Chris Christie’s nonexistent leadership, identifying which 2025 hopeful could due what Christie didn’t could prove impactful in high-propensity primary voters’ ultimate decision. Said more simply: putting their money where their mouths are is likely to emerge as a substantive issue just the same as the candidates’ respective positions on taxes, the culture wars, and the usual assortment of ordinary topics.

Both men have consequently spent significant sums of their own cash, cutting checks directly to campaigns and party organizations, aside from the monies directed from their own respective organizations.

Unsurprisingly, the Spadea Camp doesn’t agree with the Politico report’s characterization of its guy’s generosity or lack thereof towards Republicans around the state. For starters, one of Spadea’s top operatives cites the high expense of building an online donor network as an unavoidable step at this stage of Spadea’s statewide effort.

“Elect Common Sense is investing heavily in building a grassroots network of donors and supporters,” ECS adviser Tom Bonfonti explained when reached for comment on Friday by Save Jersey. “Those early investments in 2023 will pay massive dividends for the candidates we support in November 2023 and November 2024. Our goal from day one has been to elect more Republicans to office. Last I checked, that happens in November, not June.”

Bonfonti told me that Spadea’s orgs can be expected to play an active role in the coming legislative elections which might see Republicans make further gains in both chambers. He also contrasted Spadea’s operations to that of his chief rival, Ciattarelli, who has been running for governor for several years without interruption.

“Jack has been running statewide since the 2017 Governor’s race,” added Bonfonit. “Shame on him and his team for failing to build in 7 years what Elect Common Sense has built in just a few short months. This guy thinks he can actually run a winning campaign for governor? Give me a break.”

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.