New Jersey legislative candidates and independent committees had spent $42.1 million on this year’s contests for 40 Senate and 80 Assembly slots with 11 days left until the election. That works out to about $350,000 spent per seat, or more than double the total salary allowance for a legislator, $49,000, and staff, $110,000.
A little more than half of that total, or $22.8 million, was spent by candidates themselves, with the rest, $19.3 million, spent by independent committees seeking to elect, or oppose, candidates, according to data from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. That independent committee said that the spending total is a new record.
Driving the independent spending is the $12.6 million being laid out in Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s home 3rd District in South Jersey, where a committee backed by the state’s largest teachers union and a pro-Sweeney committee have each spent about $4 million. The $12.6 million spent by independent committees in that race represents 65 percent of the total spent by those groups.
Legislative candidates had raised $36.9 million through October 27, the last campaign financial filing deadline before next Tuesday’s election, leaving them with still $14.1 million in the bank.
In addition to the 3rd District, spending already exceeds $4 million in two competitive districts – Atlantic County’s 2nd and the 11th in Monmouth County. Two other districts, the southernmost 1st and central Jersey’s 16th, which includes Princeton, have seen more than $2 million spent.
Democrats have outspent Republicans 3-to-1 and incumbents have spent about twice as much as challengers.