Cruise line backs Adler in expensive race

Royal Caribbean really likes Shelley Adler.

Collectively, the cruise line’s employees have been Adler’s biggest donors as the South Jersey Democrat campaigns against Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan in a Burlington County-based district. Royal Caribbean workers have given Adler $15,250, the most of any group directly contributing to her campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, helping her in one of the most expensive House races in New Jersey.

(Workers from the company have given to five other candidates this cycle, all incumbents, though none have received as much as Adler, according to the Center's data; these contributions come from individuals who work there, not the company or its PAC).

The collective donations make for an unusual fund-raising source; most campaign funds are fueled by familiar sectors like the defense industry, professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), leadership PACs and organized labor.

Adler’s next biggest financial backer is Conner Strong – the insurance and benefits firm run by South Jersey political power George Norcross, who is also part owner of the Inquirer, Daily News and People at the firm have given $10,300 to Adler, with Norcross heavily contributing himself.

For Runyan, top support has come from military contractors Northrop Grumman ($19,000) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons ($15,000), one of several medical groups to back his campaign. The American Association for Justice, a plaintiffs’ attorney PAC, has given $10,000 to Adler, a lawyer.

The finance info shows how the candidates are funding a costly race in one of Democrats' top target districts. Runyan and Adler have spent more on the general election than any other opposing candidates in the Garden State, though one North Jersey race featured an even more expensive primary that pitted two incumbent Democrats against each other (due to redistricting) and an influx of outside spending for the general election.

So far Runyan has spent $1.1 million on the race, compared to $760,000 for Adler. But Runyan’s advantage is even bigger when you factor in the amount outside groups are pouring into New Jersey on his behalf.

The conservative American Action Network has spent $16,930 to back Runyan and the NRA has put in $13,000 on his behalf. The Lunchpail Republicans, a PAC of labor-friendly Republicans, has contributed $35,500 to Runyan’s re-election effort.

Adler’s only outside support comes from the Democratic Congressional Committee, which has contributed $19,232, but the national campaign arm has recently pulled its television ads from the area.

I took a look at the finances for a campaign story that should run soon to the Inquirer and on The Inquirer also had Runyan and Adler in for an editorial board meeting in late September where they laid out their views on key issues.