ELEC: Political contributions down, but still millions spent on state and county races

Even though local election contributions are down 16 percent, $2.6 million was spent on three legislative special elections this year, while $1.5 million was spent on the Bergen County executive race alone, according to a post-election report from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Of the three legislative special elections – in the 5th, 14th and 31st districts – the 14th District was the most competitive, where Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) defeated incumbent Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamilton). The two candidates raised and spent a combined $1.7 million.

Among all county and municipal races across the state, financial disclosure reports show a total of $16.5 million was raised, and $13.9 million was spent.

County candidates raised $10 million and spent $8.4 million, while municipal candidates raised $6.5 million and spent $5.5 million, according to ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle.

Compared to four years ago, Brindle said receipts are down about 16 percent and spending is down 20 percent.

“This may show the impact of the recession combined with new restrictions on donations by public contractors that took effect since 2005,’’ Brindle said. “However, it also seems to show that local candidates have not been hit as hard as statewide candidates.”

Fundraising by the so-called “Big Six” committees – the two state parties and four legislative leadership committees – was down 36 percent in January compared to four years earlier.

Bergen County executive candidates – outgoing Democrat Dennis McNerney and incoming Republican Kathe Donovan – spent by far the most of any other county race.

The two candidates combined raised and spent $1.5 million.

For detailed fundraising and spending analyses, visit the ELEC website or read today’s report.

ELEC: Political contributions down, but still millions spent on state and county races