New Jersey legislative candidates and independent committees had spenton 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.