As one primary voter put it: “...I am afraid of big money in politics, and he made it look like he was trying to buy the nomination.”
During the primary fight, the campaign of Democrat John Wisniewski went so far as to accuse Phil Murphy - who’s never held political office before - of “using his vast personal wealth to buy off consultants and party bosses.”
In the years leading up to his gubernatorial campaign, the former Goldman Sachs executive did prime the scene by “spreading political donations around the state.” The donations, according to campaign finance records, ramped up in the three years before launching his bid.Here’s more from NJ.com:
The last time a statewide candidate in New Jersey has donated at such a level was when then-U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, also a Democrat and a former Goldman Sachs executive, gave millions in his run-up to being elected governor in 2005. From 1999 to 2005, Corzine and his family donated $5.1 million to Democratic organizations in the state.
Murphy's opponents say he is using his money to gain influence among the state's Democratic leaders whose support is crucial to winning the party's nomination for governor. Murphy, also a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, has been endorsed by all 21 county Democratic Party chairs in the state.
Murphy’s spending on his own race has been significant. While the campaign spent more than $20 million by May 2017, $16.9 million of that came from Murphy’s own wallet. And that was just to win the Democratic nomination. His spending during the primary was 10 times that of the second highest spender in the race to be New Jersey’s next governor.For the general election, Murphy promised to cap his campaign spending at $13.8 million.