Including a super PAC, Hoboken Councilman-at-Large/Mayor-elect Ravi Bhalla saw over half a million dollars spent on his mayoral campaign leading up to his historic win on November 7th.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Bhalla’s campaign cumulatively raised a whopping $468,639, according to a 20-day post-election report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on November 27th.
That’s considerably more than what Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who backed Bhalla’s candidacy in lieu of seeking a third term, raised in 2009 and 2013 combined, which came out to about $316,860, according to ELEC reports.
However, if her 2009 team account is factored in, which included Bhalla, her cumulative fundraising total is approximately $521,367.
With that in mind, it’s also notable that labor political action committee Stronger Foundations, Inc. spent another $70,520, for polling and media, on Bhalla’s campaign – meaning that a total of about $528,556 was spent on the councilman’s mayoral bid (his ELEC account had a closing balance of $10,603, according to his November 27th report).
Hudson County View first reported at the end of October that Stronger Foundations, Inc. had spent $10,400 in the Hoboken mayoral contest, with $9,400 going towards polling conducted by New York-based McLaughlin and Associates.
According to a November 27th ELEC filing, the firm was again paid for polling on November 10th, this time $9,120, while MWW Group was paid two separate checks for $20,000 each on the same day for “media,” according to two separate ELEC reports filed on the same day.
Mike Makarski, a spokesman for Stronger Foundations who works for MWW Group, gave a broad answer when asked why the PAC decided to get involved in the Hoboken mayoral contest, which was a tumultuous affair that had six candidates on the ballot.
“Stronger Foundations participates in elections to the extent our resources allow when we believe there are important issues that need to be addressed and candidates that we believe are worthy of our support,” he said in an email.
Back on October 20th, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) New Jersey endorsed Bhalla for mayor.
Chris Lalevee, who runs the Stronger Foundations PAC, is the brother of Greg Lalevee: the business manager of IUOE Local 825.
Additionally, the council accounts of Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour, who successfully ran on Bhalla’s ticket, gave $5,000 and $5,5000, respectively, to Bhalla’s mayoral campaign on November 1st.
Their running mate, John Allen, who was unsuccessful at the polls but now the city’s new chief of staff, also contributed $8,000 on that same day. November 1st also saw Team Bhalla contribute $10,000, the report says.
Furthermore, at the beginning of last month, Bhalla loaned himself $31,001.
Then on November 22nd, Team Bhalla pitched in another $3,603.64, Allen donated another $1,997.48, Jabbour added an extra $2,621 and Doyle added another $2,754, the campaign reported to ELEC.
Among the notable contributions is $300 from State Senator Bob Gordon’s (D-38) ELEC account on November 3rd.
As far as disbursements go, campaign manager Vijay Chaudhuri was paid $7,600 on November 21st, campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz received $27,000 through four separate checks for advertising and media work and Nancy Pincus, who runs the Hoboken-centric Grafix Avenger blog, was paid $1,200 on November 13th for designing palm cards.
In a blog post, she explained that she has helped out a number of “reform” campaigns in Hoboken since 2009 so this was nothing new, despite the payment drawing the ire of at least a couple fellow Mile Square City politicos.
Out of the other five recent Hoboken mayoral candidates, only Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) has filed a 20-day post election report as of this writing.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect new information from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.