Independent Spending in New Jersey Governor’s Election Already a New High at $38 million

Murphy

With more than $4 million in outside group spending just since Monday in the New Jersey governor’s
race, independent spending for the election is well into record territory, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

Combined spending by these groups in the general election is now $25.2 million. Together with $13.4
million in pre-primary and primary spending, the total for the entire election is $38.6 million. The numbers are preliminary since the election isn’t until Tuesday, November 2.

ELEC SPENDING UPDATE:  The RGA just dropped another $616,764 not factored into the data tables presented here.

Table 1
Independent Spending in New Jersey Gubernatorial Elections Since 2009
YEAR PRIMARY GENERAL TOTAL
2009 $ 2,161,802 $11,918,366 $14,080,168
2013 $13,011,027 $ 8,339,592 $21,350,619
2017 $ 9,123,371 $15,380,781 $24,504,152
2021 (preliminary) $13,412,705 $25,179,835 $38,592,540

“Even this preliminary total already is a 57 percent increase over the previous high of $24.5 million in
2017,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director. “For more than a decade, we at ELEC have spoken about the growing influence of these so-called outside or independent groups. This year’s election already has taken it to new heights.”

Part of the late influx this past week included nearly $2 million in late spending by the Democratic and
Republican Governors’ Associations. Their combined spending in 2021 has now topped their 2017 total.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has outspent the Democratic Governors Association
(DGA) $3.1 million to $2.7 million. The $5.9 million in combined spending total tops the $5.5 million spent here during the 2017 campaign, when Democratic Governor Phil Murphy first won election.

Murphy is running for reelection this year against Republican and former Republican state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. He also is DGA’s finance chairman.

ELEC’s last overview of gubernatorial campaign activity was released the morning of October 25.

RGA spent $996,902 on television advertising that afternoon. DGA on October 26 contributed $1 million
to Our NJ, a state political committee set up by DGA to support Murphy’s candidacy. On October 27, Our NJ spent $1.1 million on television, radio and digital ads as well as fund-raising.

Another major Murphy supporter is New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest union. It
operates Garden State Forward, a federal 527 political organization.

On October 25, it contributed $500,000 to Committee to Build the Economy, another New Jersey political committee that backs the governor.

It spent $475,000 on October 26 and 27 on consulting, digital ads and handouts.

To date, Garden State Forward has given $3 million to Build the Economy and $2.5 million to Our NJ.

Combined with candidate spending, the general election already has cost more than $50 million while
the total election has surpassed $80 million.

The most expensive gubernatorial election was the $87.8 million showdown between Democratic U.S.
Senator Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester in 2005. It was mostly financed by their personal fortunes and would cost more than $123 million in today’s dollars.

The next ELEC overview of gubernatorial campaign finance activity will be released November 24.

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