ELEC says that legislative primary spending by independent expenditure groups was the highest ever this year, at $1.2 million, according to preliminary numbers. In 2015’s primaries, IE groups spent around $925,000.
“While the amounts are much smaller compared to independent spending in general elections, we are now witnessing a steady surge of independent spending in primary races. The 2017 total is nearly double the total from 2013,” said ELEC ED Jeff Brindle.
“This is another sign that independent spending is taking on a larger role in New Jersey elections,” said Brindle. “The sooner the Legislature broadens disclosure requirements for these groups, the sooner the public will have a complete picture of the role these groups are playing.”
Of the $1.2 million in IE expenditures, several legislative districts made up the bulk of it: LD3 (Senator Sweeney’s district), LD12 (Thompson v. Haney GOP Senate primary), LD24 (Oroho v. Hayden GOP Senate primary), LD26 (DeCroce v. Lyon, Cesaro GOP Assembly primary), LD31 (McKnight and Chiaravalloti v. Hart-Zadroga and Munoz Assembly Dem primary), and LD40 (Corrado and team v. DiGaetano and team Senate/Assembly primary).
ELEC noted that there were 36 losers in the primary among the 8 contested Senate seats and 16 contested Assembly seats. Winners drastically outspent losers: $27.3 million to $431,000.
Incumbents, unsurprisingly, hold the cash advantage over their challengers with a nearly 6-to-1 advantage in COH reserves heading into the general election. Incumbents have a combined $12.4 million, while their challengers have a combined $2.3 million for a total of $14.8 million total post-primary reserves, another new high according to ELEC.
Democrats hold a 2-to-1 advantage in cash reserves: $11.6 million to Republicans’ $3 million. Brindle said, “while we still can expect major skirmishes in a handful of so-called battleground districts, Democrats clearly are in strong financial position to defend their majorities.”