So far this election season, donors have pumped some $47 million into the campaigns for governor and the Legislature as well as outside groups, according to the latest filing from the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Of that, roughly $8.8 million has been contributed to the four gubernatorial candidates, while legislative candidates have raised a total of $24.3 million.
Outside spending groups, which promise to play a large role in state contests this year, have already raised $14 million in this election cycle and spent $12.3 million. Similar groups spent a total of $14 million in the 2009 election season.
To date, the four gubernatorial candidates have spent almost $6.9 million, according to the filing, leaving them $1.9 million on hand with just five days until the primary election.
Gov. Chris Christie leads that effort, having raised $6.5 million to date and spent $4.7 million. Leading Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, who is taking part in the state’s matching funds program, has so far raised $2.3 million and spent $2.1 million, leaving her $165,000 on hand.
“Other than self-financed candidates, namely former Governor Jon Corzine and opponent Douglas Forrester, the Governor has raised more in private dollars than any previous candidate participating in the primary or general election for the State’s highest office,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director.
The total amount raised and spent this year lags the 2009 gubernatorial contests, when millionaire Corzine self-funded his campaign against then-Republican challenger Christie. In that race, which featured a total of six primary opponents, candidates had raised over $13 million by this point in the contest and spent nearly $8.7 million.
In the Legislature, where there are only a small handful of competitive primaries, candidates have spent $12.3 million, leaving them just over $12 million on hand.
Democrats, who control both houses in the Legislature, have outraised their Republican opponents more than two to one, $16.7 million to $7.5 million. They’ve also far outspent the GOP, $8.7 million to $3.6 million.
Democrats maintain a decided cash-on-hand advantage over their challengers, holding nearly $8.2 million to GOP candidates’ $3.8 million.