Few analysts give all but a few Assembly races this year any chance of changing hands, but that isn’t stopping a wave of independent and Political Action Committee money from hitting New Jersey.
The most recent filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Committee show that Assembly candidates have already spent $12 million in the general election — after spending a total of $13.5 million in the primary, for a combined $25 million.
Interestingly, almost half ($5.4 million vs. $6.6 million) has come from what Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, called “outside groups.” Most — but not all — of the groups are funded by unions and are backing Democratic candidates. This is the first time Assembly candidates running alone on the top of the ticket have been the recipients of independent spending.
The top three districts in terms of spending are 38, 2, and 1 — the three districts given a chance by most observers of changing hands. Perennial swing district 38, in Bergen County, has spent $1.08 million on the general election through October 2. District 2, which represents much of Atlantic County including Atlantic City, has spent almost as much at $1.03 million. District 2 is currently represented by one Republican Assemblyman and one Democratic Assemblyman.
District 1, which represents Cape May, and parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties, also has a split district — one Republican assemblyman and one Democratic assemblyman. There has been $676,063 spent in that race.
Overall, the Democrats are outspending Republicans by $5 million to $1.6 million. They also have more cash on hand going into the home stretch.