- Associated Press - Thursday, February 9, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Outgunned and outspent, a Democratic candidate for New Jersey governor asked a primary opponent on Thursday to stop spending so much money on his campaign.

Jim Johnson, a former Clinton administration Treasury official, asked Phil Murphy to agree to a $15 million spending cap in the primary, where Murphy has racked up key endorsements and used millions of his own cash to surge to a dominant position.

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Obama administration official, had no response to Johnson’s request, spokesman Derek Roseman said.

Johnson said a cap would show the candidates are serious about stemming the influence of money in politics.

“It’s time we put people before the special interests and big money that is overrunning our political process,” Johnson said in a statement.

Experts said Johnson’s request might be more designed to grab headlines and cast Murphy in a negative light.

“Even if there’s no response from Murphy and it gets no traction, it highlights the funding disparity,” said Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison. “It’s an indication of how enormously wealth plays in this process.”

Murphy, who casts himself as a Kennedy-esque Democrat, got into the race early in May and has pledged $10 million of his own cash to fund his effort. He has the backing of influential county party chairmen and key public- and private-sector unions. State election law enforcement records show he’s spent about $7 million.

Johnson, who also served as the head of the Brennan Center for Justice, has raised over $400,000, state records show. He’s spent about $67,000.

His campaign says he reached the threshold for public matching funds, meaning Johnson can get $2 in public cash for every $1 raised. There’s a cap of $4 million, and spending for candidates getting public money is limited to $6.4 million in the primary.


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