Assembly campaign spending way down from 2005

New pay-to-play laws have restricted the flow of money into this year’s legislative races – a development that Election Law Enforcement Commission Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle called “truly remarkable.”

Money raised for all assembly candidates is down 25% from four years ago – the last time all 80 assembly seats were up along with the governor’s seat — while money spent is down 32%

“The economy and the Governor’s race are certainly having an impact, but more significantly Pay-to-Play laws are depressing financial activity,” said Brindle.

Altogether, candidates for assembly have raised $14.6 million and spent $10.2 million, compared to having raised $19.4 million and spent $14.9 million in 2005 – the last time all 80 assembly seats were up along with the governor’s seat.

Brindle said that although the current economic downturn is the worst in recent memory, money raised and spent on campaigns has continued to rise over the last 20 years – even in bad economic times.

“It is safe to say that Pay-to-Play laws are working with regard to reducing the amount in contributions going directly to candidates,” he said.

Although there’s less money floating around, Democrats are again outraising and outspending Republicans by large margins. The Democratic campaigns have raised about $10 million and spent $7.2 million, leaving them with roughly $2.9 million on hand. The Republican campaigns have raised $4.5 million, spent $2.5 million, and have $1.5 million on hand.

Independents have raised a total of $118,081 and spent $60,971.

The biggest money raisers and spenders have been District 1 incumbents Nelson Albano (D-Vineland) and Matt Milam (D-Vineland), who are in the most competitive district in the state. They’ve raised and spent about $1.2 million and have $6,500 on hand. That’s about twice what their Republican challengers, Michael Donohue and John McCann, have raised. Donohue and McCann took in $545,000, spent $515,000 and have $30,000 on hand.

In District 4, a Democratic-leaning district that Republicans consider a second priority district, GOP challengers Eugene E.T. Lawrence and Dominick DiCicco have stayed competitive with Democrats on the fundraising front, taking in over $138,000 to the $185,000 raised by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township) and running mate Bill Collins.

In District 14, incumbents Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) have a 10-1 fundraising advantage over Republicans Rob Calabro and Bill Harvey. Greenstein and DeAngelo have raised $712,000 and spent $690,000, while Calabro and Harvey have raised $66,000 and spent $64,000.

And in District 36 – which was supposed to be extremely competitive this year – Democrats have dominated in fundraising. Incumbents Fred Scalera (D-Nutley) and Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) have raied $705,000 in their joint account and spent $695,000, leaving them with just shy of $10,000 on hand. Republicans Carmen Piocosta and Don Diorio have raised $113,807 and spent $104,281, leaving them also with slightly under $10,000 on hand.

Assembly campaign spending way down from 2005