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Chris Christie Opts to Skip Public Matching Funds for NJ Primary

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Unlike during his 2009 campaign, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will not take public matching funds for his GOP gubernatorial primary this year.

Since he announced his re-election bid in late November, the campaign has hauled in $2.139 million for his primary race –– one in which he’s not expected to have any opposition –– and has $2.08 million in cash on hand, suggesting why the campaign decided to opt out of the matching-funds program.

“In response to Governor Christie’s decisive leadership and clear record of historic, bipartisan reform, we’ve seen an unprecedented level of financial support from donors across all 21 counties in New Jersey,” adviser Bill Palatucci said in a release. “This positive reaction during such a short period of time only continues to grow daily which is why Governor Christie’s campaign has decided not to pursue matching funds for this primary election cycle.”

Christie, 50, raised the funds with no traditional fundraiser. His first, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, will be Feb. 4 at a hotel in New Brunswick, N.J.

Christie only has one declared opponent:  State Sen. Barbara Buono, a Democrat who has been in state government for 20 years. There had been speculation that Newark Mayor Cory Booker would jump into the race, but the Democrat announced a run for U.S. Senate instead. Democrat Richard Codey, who served as the state’s interim governor for 14 months after the 2004 resignation of Gov. Jim McGreevey, and Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney have said they are considering bids for governor.

Buono’s campaign announced earlier this month that it has raised nearly $250,000 and officials “anticipate qualifying for matching funds,” which means raising at least $380,000, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

In an interview with ABC News, Buono would not comment on an updated fundraising amount, but said the campaign’s goal is to reach the $380,000 threshold by the end of the month, which she says it will.

Buono, 59, said she had a $250-a-head private fundraiser in Highland Park, N.J., last week, but wouldn’t comment on how much she raised and said she thought “it was interesting” that Christie decided to opt out of matching funds.

“If he felt secure in his position, he wouldn’t have to buy his election,” Buono said. “Just take a look at Chris Christie in 2009 to see that money isn’t the be all and end all. I always assumed he would have more money. … I just think it’s interesting if he was secure about the unemployment rate, the property taxes, education, transportation, I wonder whether or not he would have gone this route.”

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine outspent Christie 2-to-1 in 2009.

If Christie, who is widely thought to have presidential ambitions, were to have taken public funds for the primary, he would be limited to an expenditure limit of $5.6 million. He can still opt to take matching funds for the general election, where he would be subject to a $12.2 million cap.

During the 2008 campaign, Christie was a fundraising machine for both the Republican Party and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, traveling across the country to try to haul in cash for their efforts.

The Christie campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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