Chris Christie Presidential Buzz Nets Over $500,000 From Out Of State For New Jersey GOP

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hauled in over $500,000 in out of state donations for the New Jersey Republican Party during the height of speculation that he might run for president.

Campaign finance reports released Wednesday morning show that the New Jersey GOP received $532,900 in donations from out-of-state donors in late September, particularly in Missouri and California, states Christie had visited on a fundraising tour. The contributions are part of the almost $1.5 million the party reported raising between July 1 and Sept. 30 of this year.

Christie announced on Oct. 4 that he would not seek the presidency, but a senior Republican official in New Jersey told The Huffington Post at the time that the intense speculation over whether or not he would run would likely be a financial boon to the state Republican Party. Christie and state Republicans have made gains in the state legislature -- specifically the Senate -- a key goal for the November elections. The senior official said that the party was hoping to raise $1 million in September.

A look at the state Republican financial disclosure report shows that many of the donors to the state party include state legislators and county party committees, along with others in New Jersey. The donations flowed in during the entire three-month reporting period, with some of the in-state donations also timed towards the end of the quarterly fundraising cycle.

Yet the state Republican Party also pulled in donations from Iowa residents in August, shortly after Christie appeared at a fundraiser in the state. A group of Iowa Republicans had lobbied the first-term governor to enter the presidential race in the spring.

The Missouri and California donations, meanwhile, included many that exceeded $10,000 and came from a slew of donors, including investors, those in the hospitality industry and self-described homemakers. Christie received a $2,500 donation from his old boss, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, along with $2,500 from David Ayres, who was Ashcroft’s chief of staff at the Justice Department and now works as CEO of The Ashcroft Group.

Christie awarded The Ashcroft Group a $52 million legal contract to monitor hip and knee implant manufacturers in 2007 as part of a deal between Christie’s U.S. attorney’s office and the industry.

New Jersey Republicans are looking to narrow their current 24-16 gap in the state Senate in the coming election. The GOP is targeting three Democratic incumbents, with the hope of getting at least one additional Democrat to change parties in order to tie the Senate.

Christie has been aiming to close the Senate gap to help pass his agenda and gain confirmation of appointees. He has been locked in battles with the Democratic-controlled Senate over his nominees to a variety of posts, including a year-long wait to confirm a state Supreme Court justice, a similarly long delay for a confirmation vote on the state’s acting education commissioner and delays in votes on appointees to various state boards. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson (R), for example, has waited for a year to be confirmed to chair the state's sports authority. Republicans are considered unlikely to overtake the Democrats’ 47-33 majority in the Assembly.

The report shows the state party spending funds on behalf of the Republican challengers in the three districts it is targeting -- Vince Polistina in Atlantic City, Richard Kanka in the Trenton suburbs and John Driscoll in Bergen County. Separate campaign finance reports indicate that the Republican group and their Democratic opponents -- Jim Whalen, Linda Greenstein and Robert Gordon -- lead in the amount of fundraising and campaign spending by legislative candidates in the state, with the most raised and spent by Gordon and Driscoll in the swing district in Bergen County.