Christie Pounds the Airwaves Against Opponent, Despite Huge Lead in Gubernatorial Campaign


Buono is only running one television ad in the New York City market, spending more than $1 million on the commercial that goes after Christie's economic record.

She's also backed by One New Jersey, which is spending almost $2 million on the race, running three anti-Christie television ads in the state. Another super PAC, Committee for Our Children's Future, is running positive ads on Christie's behalf, and has spent $7.8 million on the race (it started running ads in 2011). And the Republican Governors Association launched an ad this week that went after Buono. When asked by ABC News, the RGA wouldn't give specifics on how much money it had spent except to describe it as a "large buy." Another anti-Christie group, Garden State Forward, started by the state's largest teacher's union, has spent more than $500,000. Five months away from Election Day, it all adds up to a lot of ads.

Tuesday is primary day in New Jersey, marking the official start to the general election, which brings another question over ad spending that has yet to be answered.

Christie is not currently taking state public matching funds, which awards $2 for every $1 raised, but Buono is. The Christie campaign said it has not decided whether it would accept state matching funds in the general election, and it is currently fundraising exclusively through private donations. According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Christie is still subject to state contribution limits, which cap at $3,800 for the primary and $3,800 for the general election. If Christie continues to not take state matching funds, his primary money will roll over to the general election, but if he does, it won't, which means he needs to spend all of it before Tuesday. Buono will also not be able to roll over her primary funds because she is taking public funding.

Buono actually beat Christie in fundraising during the last period, according to the campaigns' 11 day pre-primary reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, but Christie still leads in overall fundraising. To date, Christie has raised $6,502,620 to Buono's $2,317,505, and he's spent $4,707,698 to Buono's $2,177,989. Christie has $1,795,586 cash on hand to Buono's $165,400.

David Turner, communications director for Buono said the registration disadvantage Republicans have in the state means Christie has to "mislead the voters."

"His failed economic record with more than 400,000 people unemployed and property taxes up nearly 20 percent [means] he's got to mislead the voters and distort Sen. Buono's record to distract from his failed economic policies," Turner said. "When you look at the issues and the issues most important to New Jersey, Gov. Christie has been abysmal, and I think he understands he's going to have to answer a lot of questions about why he's been unable to get New Jersey out of the economic morass it's currently in."

An aide for Buono said the campaign doesn't "fully understand" Christie's five-ad "strategy," calling it "odd."

"It's not typical ad strategy," the aide said. "Usually, you would saturate the market with your one ad so it penetrates."

A ranking New Jersey Republican told ABC News this week that both the Christie camp and the Republican Governors Association are acting as if they have a real challenge, because recent elections have shown New Jersey's electorate to be dangerously anti-Republican.

"Look, the laws of gravity in this state are very strong and the demographics just are awful for us," the source said.

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