Although final tallies are not yet in, candidates spent at least $38.3 million in this year's general election, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. Democrats spent 70 percent of it; 74 percent of the total was spent by incumbents as a whole.
Nevertheless, ELEC executive director Jeff Brindle, says the total will likely be lower than the previous off-year legislative elections. In 2007, candidates spent $43 million and in 2003, they spent $45 million. Brindle credits the drop in spending to the drop in the economy, as well as restrictions on contributions by state contractors and competition from independent fundraising groups.
Independents, which included Better Education for NJ Kids Inc., the Republican State Leadership Committee, and Americans for Prosperity, spent at least $783,921 in a handful of individual races.
The most money ($5,182, 386) was spent in Atlantic County's District 2 race, where Republicans were unsuccessful in their attempt to unseat state Sen. Jim Whelan. The battle for District 38, which also saw Republicans unsuccessful in their attempt to unseat the incumbent Sen. Robert Gordon, saw a spend of $4,641,006. Other races that experienced spending of over $1 million included Districts 1, 3, 4, 7, 14, 18, 27, and 36.