ELEC: Candidate and Independent Spending High During 2023 General Election

The 2023 legislative general election already has drawn the second heaviest spending ever, according to
20-day post-election reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Combined spending by legislative candidates and independent spending interest groups totaled $70.3
million. That total, which is preliminary, is the second largest ever behind 2017. Because today’s dollar has less buying power, the 2023 figure ranks fifth compared to other legislative campaigns dating back to 2001.

Table 1
Campaign Finance Activity in 2023
New Jersey Legislative General Election
Year Raised by
Legislators
Spent by
Legislators
Houses
Running**
Independent
Spending
Total
Spending
Totals In 2023
Dollars
2017 $44,117,517 $44,164,473 S, A $26,562,428 $70,726,901 $88,775,360
2013 $46,691,108 $43,446,977 S, A $15,375,071 $58,822,048 $77,687,463
2003 $47,911,008 $44,990,255 S, A $ 4,857 $44,995,112 $75,237,452
2007 $50,797,317 $47,231,847 S, A $ 165,000 $47,396,847 $70,331,314
2023* $55,852,814 $47,351,472 S, A $22,969,841 $70,321,313 $70,321,313
2021 $47,896,089 $45,474,841 S, A $14,000,959 $59,475,800 $67,531,383
2011 $45,656,674 $44,024,272 S, A $ 1,835,500 $45,859,772 $62,726,881
2001 $34,825,851 $32,550,394 S, A $ 3,166,463 $35,716,857 $62,084,978
2015 $22,883,719 $22,632,814 A $10,908,983 $33,541,797 $43,540,498
2005 $25,081,696 $23,713,193 A $ 3,476 $23,716,669 $37,362,679
*Preliminary ** S= Senate, A=Assembly

Additional campaign finance disclosure reports due in January and April will likely increase this year’s
total though it is highly unlikely to surpass the $88.8 million inflation-adjusted record in 2017.

The large wave of spending in 2023 did help finance what appears to be the third most expensive
legislative race in New Jersey history.

Spending in the 11th Legislative District came in just under $10 million.

Table 2
General Election Spending in 11th
Legislative District (Monmouth County)
Party Candidates Independent Groups Combined
Democrats $5,913,602 $2,107,534 $8,021,137
Republicans $1,198,645 $ 748,244 $1,946,889
Totals $7,112,247 $2,855,778 $9,968,026

The figures include funds spent by candidates along with spending by independent groups specifically
earmarked for the district. At this point, only two previous legislative district elections- in 2017 and 2003- cost more factoring in inflation.

Table 3
Top Five Most Expensive Legislative
Campaigns in New Jersey
District Counties Year Total Spending Total Spending
Inflation Adjusted Winners
3 Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland 2017 $24,100,941 $29,434,458 Democrats
4 Camden/Gloucester 2003 $ 6,142,441 $10,270,929 Democrats
11 Monmouth 2023 $ 9,968,026 $ 9,968,026 Democrats
8 Atlantic/Burlington/Camden 2021 $ 8,495,560 $ 9,646,224 Republicans
12 Monmouth 2007 $ 5,963,939 $ 8,849,780 Republicans

Democratic spending in the 11th Legislative District exceeded Republican spending by a margin of more
than four-to-one. The state’s top contest resulted in a Democratic incumbent senator keeping his seat while his two Democratic Assembly running mates defeated GOP incumbents.

Statewide, Democrats boosted their margins from 46-34 to 52-28 in the state Assembly, while
maintaining their 25-15 edge in the state Senate.

The majority party typically has a major fund-raising advantage, and it was evident in seven districts
that were the biggest targets this fall. Democratic candidates and independent groups spent nearly $28 million in those districts versus a total of $10.7 million by Republicans. More than half of the spending in the state’s 40 legislative districts went to just these seven.

Five of the six Assembly seats gained by the Democrats statewide came from the target districts.

Democrats also unseated the incumbent senator in Legislative District 3.

Table 4
Spending in Seven Districts
Targeted Most Heavily by Two Parties
Democrats Republicans
District Candidates Independent
Groups Subtotals Candidates Independent
Groups Subtotals District
Totals
11 $ 5,913,602 $ 2,107,534 $ 8,021,137 $1,198,645 $ 748,244 $ 1,946,889 $ 9,968,025
16 $ 3,328,384 $ 2,052,849 $ 5,381,233 $ 845,528 $ 217,271 $ 1,062,799 $ 6,444,033
4 $ 2,115,651 $ 1,355,051* $ 3,470,702 $ 889,242 $1,936,680 $ 2,825,922 $ 6,296,624
3 $ 2,349,764 $ 2,419,373 $ 4,769,137 $ 924,227 $ 43,890 $ 968,116 $ 5,737,253
38 $ 3,535,669 $ 420,816 $ 3,956,484 $ 775,554 $ 197,261 $ 972,815 $ 4,929,300
2 $ 530,972 $ 1,158,071* $ 1,689,044 $1,261,851 $ 163,603 $ 1,425,454 $ 3,114,498
8 $ 99,185 $ 564,247 $ 663,431 $1,132,768 $ 391,574 $ 1,524,342 $ 2,187,774
Totals $17,873,227 $10,077,942 $27,951,168 $7,027,816 $3,698,522 $10,726,338 $38,677,506
*Includes $95,070 in District 4 and $119,626 in District 2 spent by Democrats to promote independent candidates.

At least 25 independent committees have poured almost $23 million into the legislative general election.

Table 5
Spending by Independent Committees
on 2023 Legislative General Election1
Group Spent Party
Brighter Future Forward $ 3,663,219 Democrat
Middle Ground $ 2,649,658 Democrat
American Representative Majority $ 2,396,563 Democrat
Garden State Forward (NJEA)2 $ 2,329,155 Democrat
Prosperity Rising NJ Inc $ 2,255,881 Democrat
Stronger Foundations Inc (Operating Engineers) $ 1,997,565 Republican
Working for Working Americans (Carpenters)3 $ 1,500,000 Democrat
Growing Economic Opportunities (Laborers)4 $ 1,159,374 Democrat
Carpenters Action Fund5 $ 1,000,000 Democrat
Strengthen Our State $ 675,254 Republican
Women for a Stronger New Jersey $ 597,127 Republican
Republican State Leadership Committee $ 765,295 Republican
Planned Parenthood $ 361,731 Democrat
New Jersey Coalition of Real Estate $ 351,492 Both Parties
Progress for NJ PAC $ 250,000 Democrat
South Jersey Strong $ 217,709 Republican
Jersey Freedom $ 214,696 Democrat
Garden State Success $ 209,742 Both Parties
NJ League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund $ 166,414 Democrat
AFT Solidarity $ 100,000 Democrat
Patriots for Progress $ 49,760 Republican
America’s Future Fund $ 38,300 Uncertain
NRA Political Victory Fund $ 7,497 Republican
NJ Right to Life PAC $ 7,320 Republican
NJ Family Policy Center $ 6,089 Republican
Grand Total $22,969,841

Democrats spent $51.6 million on the general election or 73 percent. Republicans spent $18.4 million or
26 percent. A committee funded by Democratic affiliates spent $214,696 promoting independent candidates in Districts 2 and 4.

Table 6
Party Breakdown of Election Spending
Party Candidates Independent
Groups Totals Percent
Democrats $33,502,431 $18,105,931 $51,608,362 73%
Republicans $13,835,919 $ 4,610,914 $18,446,833 26%
Independents $ 13,122 $ 214,696 $ 227,818 0.3%
Uncertain $ 38,300 $ 38,300 0.1%
Total $47,351,472 $22,969,841 $70,321,313 100%

1 Some totals omit spending on local races. Some groups are continuing political committees that will file quarterly reports in January.

2 Contributed $1 million to Prosperity Rising and $900,000 to Middle Ground.

3. Contributed to Brighter Future Forward.

4 Contributed $450,000 to Prosperity Rising and $400,000 to Middle Ground.

5 Contributed to Brighter Future Forward.

Legislative candidates who won spent more than six times the amount of losing candidates. Winning
candidates also had significant funds left to roll over into their next elections.

Table 7
Breakdown of Winners and Losers
Winners Spent Cash Transferred
Democrats $32,378,850 $7,174,014 $ 5,392,608
Republicans $ 8,675,836 $1,026,044 $ 1,844,159
Totals- Winners $41,054,685 $8,200,058 $ 7,236,767
Losers
Democrats $ 1,123,581 $ 153,397
Republicans $ 5,160,083 $ 140,842 $ 2,019
Independents $ 13,122 $ 7,045
Totals- Losers $ 6,296,786 $ 301,284 $ 2,019
Totals- All $47,351,472 $8,501,342 $7,238,786

These totals reflect candidate spending only. They do not include spending by independent committees to promote or oppose candidates.

Candidate totals in this analysis are based on 20-day post-election day reports that reflect campaign
finance activity through November 24, 2023. Independent spending totals are based on reports filed as recently as November 30.

Reports filed by legislative candidates and independent spenders are available online on ELEC’s website
at www.elec.nj.gov. A downloadable summary of data from candidate reports is available in both spreadsheet
and PDF formats at www.elec.nj.gov/publicinformation/statistics.htm

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