The top 10 most expensive legislative districts this year witnessed a collective $33.9 million in spending, accounting for 69% of the $49.2 million spent on all legislative elections this year, according to a report from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. That total, while high, still marks only the seventh-most expensive legislative election since 2001, adjusting for inflation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top five most expensive districts on the list were all districts that hosted hotly contested races, and in fact all five witnessed at least one seat flip to the other party.
The two most expensive in the final tally, as had been true throughout the election season, were the 2nd and 8th districts, two perennially competitive districts where Republicans managed a clean sweep. $8.5 million was spent in the 8th district, and $7.7 million in the 2nd district; in both cases, independent groups accounted for more than half of the total spending.
Next on the list was the 11th district, where Democratic spending helped State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) win re-election but wasn’t enough to save his counterparts in the Assembly; the district saw $4.2 million in spending, nearly all of it from the Democratic candidates themselves.
The 16th district, the lone district in the state where Democrats flipped a seat, was in fourth at $3.0 million, once again largely coming from candidates rather than outside groups.
Finally, at $2.9 million, the 3rd district – where Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) lost his seat in a major upset – was in fifth, though that total comes with an asterisk. Sweeney, who sought to grow his caucus but did not see himself as being significantly at risk of losing, likely spent at least some of that money elsewhere in the state rather than in his own district.
Rounding out the top 10 were the 36th district, where Democratic incumbents held on with relative ease, and the Republican-held 21st, 25th, 39th, and 13th districts, each of which saw Democrats fall well short.