With money being funneled towards the state’s most competitive legislative districts at an ever-increasing pace, the 2nd and 8th legislative districts have now each witnessed more than $6 million in spending, according to a new report released today by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
The 8th district has surpassed the 2nd as the most expensive in the state, with $6.7 million in total spending; $2.6 million came from the candidates themselves, while $4.1 million was spent by outside groups. The 2nd district is just barely behind at $6.6 million; similarly, $2.6 million was spent by the candidates and around $4 million by outside groups.
The two races are now the 7th- and 8th-most expensive legislative campaigns in state history, a list they’re likely to move up further when all is said and done. Neither has a chance of dethroning 2017’s campaign for the 3rd district, however, which saw $24.1 million in spending.
Today’s report did not break the spending down by party on a district level, but in the aggregate, Democratic candidates spent $15.9 million to Republicans’ $5.7 million. Democrats additionally have a huge cash-on-hand advantage, $14.6 million to $3.2 million.
Among outside groups, the two largest spenders by far – the South Jersey Democratic group American Democratic Majority and Garden State Forward, an arm of the NJEA – were both spending in support of Democrats. The two groups alone spent over $8 million since the beginning of the general election season, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the $12.4 million in total outside spending.
The third-most expensive race in the state is, unexpectedly, the 11th district, which Republicans have increasingly cited as a competitive race as the cycle has gone on. But the district’s Republican candidates continue to be poor fundraisers, and the large majority of the district’s $3.2 million in spending is coming from Democrats.
In fourth and fifth places were the 16th and 3rd districts, with $2.3 million and $1.8 million in spending, respectively. The 16th district is a split district that cash-flush Democrats are favored to flip, while the 3rd district is home to Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and his just-to-be-safe ad blitz.
Also drawing more than $1 million in spending were the 21st and 25th districts, two Republican-held districts that Democrats have targeted heavily in the past but are focusing on less this cycle.
In total, $34 million has been spent on legislative elections: $21.7 million from the candidates, and $12.4 million from outside groups.