With three weeks to go before the June 6 primary, the campaign to unseat Senator Sam Thompson, Assemblyman Rob Dancer and Assemblyman Rob Clifton as the Republican nominees in the 12th Legislative District appears to be on life support.
Art Haney, the Chairman of the Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority, Old Bridge Councilwoman Debbie Walker and former Chesterfield Councilman Alex Robotin swore to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) that they will be spending less that $14,000 on their joint campaign. Haney is the Senate candidate challenging Thompson. Walker and Robotin are on the ballot against Dancer and Clifton.
Haney spent $1,641 of his own money for campaign signs, according to a Form C-1 file with ELEC.
Jeff Hein, Thompson, Dancer and Clifton’s campaign manager told MMM that he became aware that someone started doing opposition research into his candidates last week. “A good oppo research report takes 2-3 weeks to perform and, on three candidates, would cost $7000-$8000,” Hein said. “They are off to a very late start. If they are spending no more than $14,000, I can’t imagine what they will do with their research.”
Josh Foote, the Executive Director of the Burlington County Republican Organization, was the original campaign manager for the Haney, Robotin, Walker slate which is bracketed with the Ciattarelli for Governor campaign in Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. Foote told Politico-NJ that he is no longer on board. In a phone interview with MMM, Foote said that he stopped managing the campaign “a couple of weeks ago” and that Dr. Anita Greenberg, a veterinarian and a Old Bridge councilwoman, had taken over. Foote said he only agreed to be named campaign managers to help Haney get onto the ballot and that he was busy managing the Burlington County Freeholder campaign and municipal primaries in Burlington.
Haney, Walker and Greenberg have not returned calls from MMM, but Haney told Politico-NJ, “We have some fundraising going now and if there is a change in the amount we’re going to spend, we’ll report that immediately. We’ll be getting more active over the next three weeks. You’ll start hearing more from us.”
According to multiple published reports, Haney was recruited to challenge Thompson by Burlington GOP Chairman Bill Layton after Dancer and Clifton both turned downed Layton’s overture to unseat their colleague and running mate. Layton told the assemblymen he would raise $500,000 to unseat Thompson that they would be “collateral damage.” Layton has not returned MMM’s call.
Thompson, Dancer and Clifton are not taking any chances. Combined, the LD 12 legislators have spent $55,464 defending their seats through last week and have over $240,000 in cash on hand. The incumbents’ campaign has already sent two mailers and has an aggressive social media and door to door campaign, Hein said.