NJ primary election spending fifth lowest in 20 years
The amount of money spent on political campaigns in the United States appears to be heading in one direction – always on the rise. For example, spending by independent candidates, parties and campaign groups in the 2016 federal election totaled $ 6.5 billion. To put it in context, that figure was “comparable to the GDP that year of Monaco, Kosovo or Liechtenstein, and more than double that of Liberia,” as noted by CNN’s The Conversation. Spending for the 2020 election cycle broke that, totaling $ 14.4 billion.
Good to know, then, that here in New Jersey, the upward trend has been thwarted for once by candidates in this year’s primary election for governor. The candidates, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democratic and Republican challenger, spent a total of $ 16.3 million, the fifth lowest in 20 years, according to the latest information released by the Election Law Enforcement Commission of New Jersey (ELEC). For comparison, in 2017, applicants spent $ 38 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2013, applicants spent approximately $ 11 million (adjusted for inflation).
“Expenses during the years when incumbents are running for re-election, such as 2009, 2013 and 2021, generally tend to be smaller,” said Jeff Brindle, executive director of ELEC. “Spending is also falling as incumbents seeking re-election typically face little or no major challenge.”
The two biggest spenders were Governor Phil Murphy, who had no main opponent. His campaign raised nearly $ 8 million and spent about $ 300,000. Jack Ciattarelli, who won the Republican race, raised around $ 7.1 million and also spent most of what was raised.
Another figure on the spreadsheet shows that independent commissions ‘spending on primaries nearly matched that on candidates’ campaigns – $ 13.2 million. What’s remarkable here is that most of that money was raised by New Direction for New Jersey, a so-called Murphy-friendly black money group. He raised $ 13.6 million and spent $ 13.2 million. An entity affiliated with Ciattarelli called Fix NJ Now raised just over $ 247,000 and spent $ 152,369.