Christie’s Challenger Qualifies for Matching Funds

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

State Sen. Barbara Buono says her gubernatorial campaign has qualified for matching public funds, but putting the Democrat well behind Republican Gov. Chris Christie in both funding and polls.

Candidates must raise $380,000 to qualify for matching funds. Buono’s campaign reported raising $445,000. It can now get $2 in public money for each $1 it raises, with an overall cap of $8.2 million. But facing a nationally known Republican who has received endorsements from many Democratic officials, Buono has struggled to raise money despite a steady stream of urgent pleas emailed to supporters.

Her campaign fell short of receiving the maximum match for the primary — something the winner of a major-party gubernatorial primary has never done before in New Jersey.

Christie’s campaign put out a release on Tuesday chiding Buono’s fundraising ability, saying she would have to improve her weekly contribution intake sixfold to receive the maximum match.

Christie, who raised more than $2 million in June, declined public assistance in the primary and has not said whether he’ll accept it for November’s election. Candidates who don’t take the matching money do not have a limit on how much their campaigns can spend, though they are still bound by limits on how much each donor can contribute.