New Jersey’s gubernatorial election has witnessed $57.9 million in total spending, a new report from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) said today, higher than the $52.9 million spent at this point in the 2017 election. $27.7 million, or about 48%, of the spending has occurred since the June primary elections.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli has significantly outspent his Democratic opponent, Gov. Phil Murphy, in the months since the primary; he has spent $8.9 million, versus Murphy’s $5.7 million.
But Ciattarelli’s heavy spending has given Murphy a lopsided cash-on-hand advantage – $7.3 million-to-$1.2 million – heading into the final month of the election. Murphy also outraised Ciattarelli, $13 million to $10.1 million.
Each candidate was dwarfed by the independent expenditures funneling money into the race, which totaled $13.1 million in spending since June, and $26.5 million total. ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle explained that outside groups often focus on New Jersey’s off-year elections, when few other major elections are occurring around the country.
“Once again, gubernatorial elections are being held this year only in New Jersey and Virginia,” Brindle said in a statement. “So the Garden State is a major draw for these national political groups. During the last decade, these and other independent committees have become a major force in federal, state and local campaigns.”
The biggest outside spender was the New Jersey Education Association, a Murphy backer, which spent $5 million.
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and Republican Governors Association (RGA) each waded into the race, spending $1.3 million and $409,777, respectively. The DGA also funded a separate group called Our NJ, which itself put $3.4 million towards Murphy.
Among the three minor-party candidates for governor, only Green nominee Madelyn Hoffman reported raising any money, reporting $1,874 in campaign contributions. Hoffman, Libertarian nominee Gregg Mele, and Socialist Workers nominee Joanne Kulinsky have each told ELEC they anticipate spending less than $5,800 total.
Despite raising tens of millions of dollars, Murphy and Ciattarelli are still nowhere near the levels of spending seen in the 2005 gubernatorial election between Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester. According to ELEC, that election witnessed $87.8 in total spending – the equivalent of $123 million in today’s dollars.