4 Hoboken incumbents out-fundraising opponents, but slate funds put Team Bhalla ahead


Four incumbents in the Hoboken ward council races are out-fundraising their opponents head-to-head, but a committee account for Team Bhalla gives them the edge when it comes to campaign cash, according to reports recently filed with the state. By John Heinis/Hudson County View

In the 2nd Ward, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher reports raising $14,489 to date and has $6,570.07 cash on hand, according to a report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on October 9th.

She loaned herself $2,000 to date and hasn’t received any donations over $500, according to the report.

Her opponent, Nora Martinez-Debenedetto is not far behind with $12,618.75 raised and has considerably more cash on hand: $10,272.74, her October 8th ELEC filing says.

The New York Hotel Trades Council, part of the extremely extensive Airbnb referendum fight down the road in Jersey City, contributed $500 to her candidacy back on September 19th, according to the report.

Meanwhile, in the 4th Ward, Councilman Ruben Ramos has banked $15,250 to date, which includes a $20,000 loan on October 2nd, his October 11th filing says. His closing balance is listed as $27,234.42.

Challenger Lisa Sprengle reports raising $4,850 as of October 7th, with a closing balance of $3,731.56, her latest ELEC filing shows. She has loaned herself a total of $575 since July 29th.

Additionally, 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino, the council president, reports $6,105 raised as of October 8th. Former Councilman Michael Lenz contributed $1,000 back on July 22nd and $3,093 transferred from a prior campaign – bringing her cash on hand up to $7,389.84.

Cristen Cricco-Powell, one of two 6th Ward challengers, is the only council hopeful to bank more than the incumbent with $8,011 reported as of October 7th. Like Debenedetto, the New York Trades Council contributed $500 to her campaign.

Based on her latest ELEC filing, she has $6,773.29 on hand.

Frank Rosner, the other challenger in the 6th Ward race, has not filed a 29-day pre-election report, previously he has raised well under the required reporting threshold thus far.

The same can be said of 3rd Ward challenger Ron Bautista, who hasn’t filed since he declared his candidacy back in September 2018.

Incumbent Mike Russo has raised $7.275, according to his October 7th ELEC filing, and has spent just $11.95 on bank charges.

In the 5th Ward, where Councilman Peter Cunningham won’t be seeking re-election, Team Bhalla’s Phil Cohen has a whopping $27,469.18 on hand after receiving $31,340 in his campaign account, his October 7th filing reads.

The Hotel Trades Council and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, the latter who endorsed four of the five members of Team Bhalla’s slate, each gave $500 to his campaign.

Additionally, Nicola Maganuco reports $4,005.38 as of October 6th and has just 240.92 on hand. He has mostly self-financed his campaign, loaning himself $3,814.46.

The other 5th Ward council hopeful, Tim Crowell, has raised $2,500 and still has $2,232.40 on hand, as of October 6th. He has loaned himself $1,100 as of about two weeks ago.

Finally, the committee account for the Team Bhalla slate reports $47,800 raised as of October 7th, with $24,511.01 still available to spend, based on their October 7th ELEC report.

Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, both of the 33rd Legislative District (which includes Hoboken), contributed $1,000 and $2,500, respectively, on August 8th.

The New York Trades Council also dished out another $500 on September 19th.

Additionally, Migdala Pagan-Milano, seeking to unseat 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, reports $6,570 raised, with $5,518.36 on hand as of October 7th.

Shortly after this story was initially published, DeFusco’s October 17th ELEC report became available on their website. He reports raising $28,850.51 up to this point, with $5,300 coming from six different PACs.

BABS PAC gave $700 on Sept. 9th, Asbestos Workers Local No. 32 contributed $1,000, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters Non-Partisan PAC wrote a check for $700, Sprinkler Fitters Local 696 donated $200 (all on Sept. 17th) and the UA Plumbers Local 24 chipped in $1,800 on Sept. 26th.

DeFusco also reports $22,546.79 cash on hand heading into the home stretch.


Editor’s Note: This story was updated with information from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco’s NJ ELEC report.

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  1. You would think after the whole Frank Raia VBM debacle etc.. that Councilman Defusco’s campaign machine would be very contentious and transparent about where his campaign funding is now coming from and where it is going.

  2. John- why did you mention the Union and Pac contributions given to the Bhalla slate members but not the Union contributions received by Jen Jennatino and Tiffanie Fischer?

    • I look at it like this: no one wants to read every single donation or they’d just download the ELECs themselves. Trying to highlight prominent groups, people and trends as they pertain to the donations. For example, Hotel Trades Council one of the most prominent unions in the Northeast and are going to spend over a million in Jersey City this election cycle. As for trends, DeFusco continues to get a significant amount of campaign cash from unions so that was noted once his report was available.