In Brief

Groups blanket two legislative districts with millions in outside funds

By: - October 21, 2021 12:05 pm

The nearly $3.4 million in independent spending in the 2nd and 8th districts accounts for 52% of all such spending statewide. (Getty Images)

Outside groups have blanketed New Jersey’s two most competitive legislative races with millions in spending on television ads and mailers this fall, and two groups that have often found themselves opposed to one another appear to have split up the load.

American Democratic Majority, a super PAC with ties to Democratic South Jersey power broker George Norcross, has focused its attention on the 8th district, where state Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Burlington) faces a challenge from Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Burlington), a former longtime county sheriff.

Meanwhile, Garden State Forward, a super PAC launched and funded by the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, has taken the lead in the 2nd district. That Atlantic County district is where Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo and former Assemblyman Vince Polistina, a Republican, are vying to fill a vacant Senate seat.

The nearly $3.4 million in independent spending in the 2nd and 8th districts accounts for 52% of all such spending statewide. Almost all of it benefits the districts’ Democratic candidates.

“Independent spending committees, which are supposed to operate separate from candidates and parties, have become a major force in New Jersey elections,” ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle said in a statement. “They typically target the most competitive districts and spending so far bears this out.”

Norcross’ group spent a little less than $1.2 million in the 8th district between June 26 and Oct. 1, according to quarterly reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Most of the money, $600,000, went to ad buys on network television in the 8th. It also spent $368,000 on mixed media buys and $221,793 on mailers boosting Addiego and her running mates, or attacking Stanfield and her team.

American Democratic Majority spent little on the race in the 2nd District, where the Senate seat was vacated when Chris Brown (R-Atlantic) resigned in July for a post in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration. It spent $69,313 on mailers in that district through Oct. 1 and launched just $30,000 in digital ads there.

Garden State Forward spent just over $1.8 million in the 2nd. Most of that money, a little more than $1.5 million, went toward television ads, according to independent expenditure reports filed with ELEC. The remaining $213,377 went toward mailers.

Republicans have also received some outside help, but not nearly as much. The Republican State Leadership Committee reported spending $50,000 in each of the two districts.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.

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