When all the money spent on New Jersey’s gubernatorial primary was counted, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy emerged as the clear biggest spender.
The former Wall Street executive and German ambassador shelled out almost $22 million from his campaign account, and two super PACs supporting him prior to his announcement spent another $5 million. Of that, Murphy put up $21.2 million of his own money.
That puts Murphy in the ranks of the most generous self-funding candidates in state history. But despite having spent a lot of his own money on his candidacy so far, the Middletown man is not even close to the top spot, according to information from the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission.
This is the list of the 10 candidates who opened their wallets widest to advance their campaigns, the offices they sought, and the amounts they spent (ranked according to their inflation-adjusted amounts):
1. Jon Corzine
A Goldman Sachs executive like Murphy, Corzine’s first run for office — and win — was for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. The Democrat won that spot in 2000 after spending almost $60.2 million, the equivalent of $83.3 million today.
2. Steve Forbes
On his first unsuccessful attempt at the Republican presidential nomination in 1996, the CEO of Forbes Media spent $37.4 million. Today, that would be worth almost $56.9 million.
Four years later, Forbes again ran for president in the GOP primary and again lost. This time, he spent $38.7 million of his own money, which would equal $53.6 million today. Combined, Forbes spent more than $110 million inflation-adjusted on both of his presidential primary efforts.
In his first run for governor in 2005, the then-U.S. Sen. Corzine spent $43.1 million. Today, that amount would equal $52.7 million.
5. Doug Forrester
The president of a health-benefits management firm, Forrester was Corzine’s Republican opponent in the 2005 gubernatorial race. He spent almost $30 million of his own money, $36.6 million when adjusted for inflation.
When he sought re-election to the governorship in 2009, Corzine spent $27.5 million, the equivalent of $30.5 million today. Over his three elections, the amount Corzine spent adjusted for inflation was a grand total $166 million, making him the biggest self-funder in state history.
His $21.2 million spent so far puts him in seventh place for the amount spent by an individual on a single race.
8. Frank Lautenberg
When he first ran for U.S. Senate in 1982, the chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing used $5.1 million of his own funds for his campaign. That would equal $12.6 million today. The Democrat’s success led to his spending more than 28 years in the Senate, making him the longest-serving senator from New Jersey.
In 2002, the Republican made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. He spent $7.5 million, equal to $9.9 million adjusted for inflation. In both races, Forrester spent an adjusted $46.5 million.
10. Tom MacArthur
When the 3rd Congressional District in South Jersey opened in 2014, the businessman moved down to Barnegat Light to run for the seat. MacArthur spent $5 million, the equivalent of $5.1 million today, in his victory. which helped make that race the most expensive in the nation for an open seat that year.