ELEC: Legislative Candidates End Primary With $10.5 Million Unspent; Most Will Be Transferred to General Election

From left to right: former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman Ellen Park, Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, former Tenafly Councilwoman Shama Haider

With both legislative houses on the ballot on November 2, primary candidates reported $10.5 million left
in their coffers that could be rolled over into the general election, according to post-election reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

The $37.3 million raised by candidates for the 2021 primary was the most ever in dollars unadjusted for
inflation. However, if totals from previous years are stated in today’s dollars, 2011 and 2017 totals would be higher.

This year’s fundraising boon did provide a post-election windfall that is nearly three times more than the
$3.4 million remaining at this point in 2019. Two years ago, only Assembly members ran for reelection except for one special Senate election. This year, both the Assembly and Senate are in play.

Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, said incumbents are entering the general election with far
more cash in the bank than challengers- $9.6 million versus $920,556, or 91.3 percent of the leftover cash.

“One advantage of being an incumbent is you usually have a much easier time raising campaign funds.
We are seeing the same trend this year,” he said. “Since most incumbents have relatively safe seats and face little chance of defeat, they often end the primary with leftover funds that they can use for the general election.”

“The incumbent advantage is clearly reflected in this year’s numbers. Incumbents have ten times more
cash in reserve than challengers,” he added.

Democrats, who have controlled the legislative majority since 2001, spent four times more than
Republicans on the primary – $21.4 million versus $5.3 million- while also ending up with nearly four times more money in the bank- $8.3 million versus $2.3 million.


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