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Interactive Map: Congressional Campaign Spending in New Jersey

Colleen O'Dea | October 23, 2012

Total spent by all candidates through September 30

Less than $500,000

$500,000 - $1 million

$1 million - $1.5 million

$1.5 million - $2 million

More than $2 million

The total amount spent by candidate committees in congressional districts through September 30, including primary spending, but not including spending by outside political committees or super PACs.

Source: NJ Spotlight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission


Candidates for federal office and the committees seeking to help elect or block them have spent $27.8 million in New Jersey -- most of that just through September 30, federal election records show.

As much as that is, it pales in comparison with the $41 million spent in the Virginia Senate race, where independent expenditures by political action committees promoting or opposing one candidate or the other exceed the total spending in New Jersey.

Three others states’ Senate races -- Wisconsin, Ohio, and Massachusetts -- also have cost more than all the races in New Jersey combined.

That said, the $9 million spent on the race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, which polls show to be not even close, isn’t pocket change.

Menendez, who holds a double-digit lead over Kyrillos in all polls taken in the past month, had raised more than twice as much as the state senator and had five times more cash on hand -- $8.3 million vs. $1.7 million -- as of their September 30 reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Although he would not seem to need it, the incumbent is also benefitting from two-thirds of the $950,000 in outside PAC and super PAC money spent on the race as of yesterday, with Kyrillos getting $360,000 worth of support from the Patriot Prosperity PAC, according to the Sunlight Foundation's Follow the Unlimited Money website that tracks super PAC spending.

That same group, funded largely by $500,000 from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and $250,000 from Robert Harris, a corporate executive from Holmdel who donates chiefly to Republicans and groups that support them, has made the only independent expenditure in North Jersey's 9th Congressional District, spending nearly $470,000 promoting Republican challenger Shmuley Boteach. All of that went to produce or purchase media ads.

The 9th is also home to the state's most expensive race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, largely because of the bruising Democratic primary in which two sitting congressmen -- William Pascrell and Steve Rothman -- faced off due to redistricting. Pascrell won. All candidates have spent some $6.3 million there through September 30. But as of that date, Pascrell had only $438,000 in cash on hand -- less than the super PAC ad buy for Boteach, who had $580,000 in his campaign account.

Still, Pascrell is the clear favorite, given there are 80,000 more registered Democrats in the district than registered Republicans.

In the House race deemed to be closest, the 3rd District in South Jersey, the major party candidates had spent about $1.8 million through September 30, with another $80,000 in outside money spent as of yesterday, most of that supporting incumbent Rep. Jon Runyan, the Republican. Leading in the most recent polls, Runyan also had more cash on hand than Democrat Shelley Adler -- $738,000 to $174,000. Incumbents in some of the other contests in the state that are not considered to be close had amassed significant warchests, according to the FEC data.

Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, in the northernmost 5th District, had raised almost $2.3 million, more than 100 times that of his Democratic opponent Adam Gussen. And in the 6th District at the Shore, Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone reported $3.5 million cash on hand, compared with $53,000 for his Tea Party-backed Republican opponent Anna Little, whom Pallone beat two years ago.

Only two of some 40 independents running reported any receipts, and they have raised less than $2,500 in total.

While the presidential race is getting most of the public’s attention in New Jersey, it is getting little money because President Obama is expected to win the state easily. According to Sunlight, political committees have spent just $134,000 here for or against any of the candidates in the primary and general elections. More than half of that, $76,000, was spent by two conservative PACs opposing Obama. Some $3,100 has been spent in support of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with $9,000 spent against him.

Colleen O'Dea is an editor at large for NJ Spotlight.

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