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The State House in Trenton. (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

2019 big six spending lowest in more than a decade

RSC, Senate Republican victory outspent Democratic counterparts

By Nikita Biryukov, January 17 2020 10:48 am

State party and legislative leadership committee spending hit a decade low in last year’s legislative races, according to data released by the Election Law Enforcement Commission Friday.

Combined, the big-six spent just over $8 million on the year’s races, falling roughly $600,000 of the total spent during 2015, the last time Assembly races were at the top of the ticket.

The roughly $7.2 million raised trailed behind 2015 fundraising by just under $900,000.

“With just the state Assembly running for reelection plus a special state Senate election in the first legislative district, it was a relatively low-profile election,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director. “That may be one reason why Big Six spending was fairly subdued for a state election year.”

While the combined spending of the Democratic State Committee and the party’s two legislative leadership committees dwarfed that of their Republican counterparts by more than $1 million, $4.6 million to 3.4 million, The Republican State Committee and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean’s leadership PAC outspent their Democratic analogs.

Amid a since-concluded feud for control of the DSC, the organization raised a little less than $1.4 million and spent just over $1.4 million.

The State GOP raised and spent just under $2 million this year and came out of the year’s races with about $100,000 more in its reserves.

Senate Republican Majority spent $601,019 on the first legislative district’s Senate race, the only one that was up for election this year.

Senate Democratic Majority spent $517,216 on the same, though it narrowly edged its Republican counterpart in fundraising, leading Kean’s PAC $600,809 to $457,592.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s leadership committee made up for the deficit seen in the other Democratic organizations.

The Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee raised roughly $2 million, coming just shy of tripling the $715,434 raised by Assembly Republican Victory.

The Democratic group spent about $2.6 million on retaining its Assembly majority, more than three times the $861,683 spent by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s leadership committee.

Democrats lost two seats in the Assembly and one seat in the Senate. Each of those races was in the first legislative district.

Brindle again urged for the passage of campaign finance reforms that would push campaign funds currently going to non-disclosing outside spending groups to party organizations and leadership committees.

“The long-term financial decline of party committees must be reversed because they are more accountable and transparent than the fast-spreading array of independent special interest committees that now dominate the electoral landscape in New Jersey,” Brindle said. “Higher contribution limits for party committees, an exemption from pay-to-play restrictions, and a requirement that independent spenders fully disclose their donors just like parties and candidates would help reinvigorate the parties.”

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