- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

Republican Tom MacArthur is staying ahead in funding in New Jersey’s most expensive congressional race, thanks to his own money.

A report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission shows he put in another $1 million of his own money earlier this month, bringing his own total to $5 million.

He has also raised $520,000 from other donors in his campaign against Democrat Aimee Belgard for the open seat representing the 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore.

With Republican Rep. Jon Runyan not seeking re-election after two terms, the battle for the seat has been intense. It’s been New Jersey’s most expensive congressional campaign this year, and most of the advertising has been negative.

Belgard has done more fundraising from others, bringing in $1.5 million through Oct. 15, according to her FEC filing, including $108,000 in the first half of October. But she’s put in just $3,200 of her own money.

MacArthur has been able to spend three times as much as Belgard - $4.4 million to $1.1 million, including primary campaigns - and had more on hand for the stretch run of the campaign, according to their filings.

Their race has also attracted $2.7 million so far in independent expenditures from groups not legally allowed to coordinate with the campaigns. Through filings made public early Friday, that made it 17th out of 438 congressional races nationwide in independent money.

The biggest independent funder has been the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to blast MacArthur. But the conservative Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies is also running commercials taking aim at Belgard.

The latest election finance reports - the last complete ones to be filed before the Nov. 4 election - show two other New Jersey Democrats who have shown some momentum in their efforts to unseat incumbent Republican members of Congress lagging well behind the incumbents.

In southern New Jersey’s 2nd District, Democrat William Hughes Jr. had brought in $688,000 through Oct. 15, far less than the $1.7 million raised by Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

In northern New Jersey’s 5th District, Democrat Roy Cho had raised $980,000 to Rep. Scott Garrett’s $1.9 million.

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Follow Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill

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