Gubernatorial candidates spent $16,290,952 on the June 8 primary election, the fifth lowest total in 20
years based on inflation-adjusted numbers, according to reports filed 20 days after the election with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
“Measured in today’s dollars, the 2021 primary pales by comparison to most recent gubernatorial
primaries,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director.
“Spending during years when incumbents are running for reelection, such as 2009, 2013 and 2021,
typically tends to be smaller. These elections generally draw fewer candidates- five this year versus 11 in 2017 when there was an open seat. Spending also is down because incumbents seeking reelection usually face little or no primary challenge,” said Brindle. Murphy this year had no primary opponent.
The two candidates who won their party nominations- Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and former
Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli- were the two biggest spenders.
Murphy spent $7.7 million while Ciattarelli spent $7 million.
Under a nationally regarded program begun in the 1970s, New Jersey gubernatorial candidates who raise more than a threshold- $490,000 in 2021- can qualify for two dollars of public financing for every one dollar raised from private sources. Public funding for the 2021 primary was limited to $4,600,000.
This year, only Murphy and Ciattarelli qualified for public funding. Murphy raised more than enough to
qualify for the full $4.6 million, but his campaign accepted just $4.1 million. Ciattarelli also qualified for the maximum $4.6 million primary disbursement.
Adjusting for inflation, the $8.7 million total was the third most public funds given out for a gubernatorial primary election in two decades.
Based on disclosure reports made public to date, independent spending related to the primary campaign
Reports filed by gubernatorial candidates and independent committees are available online on ELEC’s
website at www.elec.state.nj.us. ELEC also can be accessed on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NJElectionLaw)
and Twitter (www.twitter.com/elecnj).