- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New state figures show outside groups have poured $5.4 million into the state’s general election so far with much of it coming from labor organizations.

The Election Law Enforcement Commission said Tuesday the spending is triple what groups spent in 2011, the last non-gubernatorial election.

A closer look at spending so far in the 2015 contest, the first with the Assembly at the top of the ticket since 1999:

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OUTSIDE SPENDING

Most of the spending came from two groups. Garden State Forward, a political arm of the New Jersey Education Association, contributed $2.75 million to General Majority PAC. General Majority PAC itself has spent about $2 million.

The PAC fights for Democrats across the country, but it has some New Jersey roots. Its president, Susan McCue, the former chief of staff to one-time U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a New Jersey native who sits on the board at Rutgers.

In 2013, the organization, known then as the Fund for Jobs, Growth and Security, spent $8 million in support of Democratic candidates.

Election Law Enforcement Commission Executive Director Jeff Brindle told The Associated Press he thinks the group’s spending this year is the largest block of outside spending in the general election.

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HOT RACES

All 80 Assembly seats are up for grabs this year, but only a handful are considered competitive. Spending in the top 10 races accounts for about $5 million of the $6.5 million spent so far.

Much of the candidate spending this cycle has come from 10 races. Topping the list are northern New Jersey’s 38th District and southern New Jersey’s 1st and 2nd districts. Those three races have also been the target of General Majority PAC, which has spent about $854,000 in the southern seats and almost $200,000 in the Bergen- and Passaic County-centered 38th District.

In those contests, Democrats and Republicans split control of each district’s two seats. Both parties are vying to pick up the spare seat. Democrats control the Assembly, with Republicans facing long odds to win control. Republicans were last in charge in the Assembly in 2001.

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PARTY BREAKDOWN

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Jersey and control both houses of the Legislature. Most experts think the party will keep control of the Assembly after Election Day.

Fundraising seems to reflect the Democrats’ political influence in the state.

Democrats are outpacing Republicans so far this cycle in fundraising. They raised $8.5 million and spent about $5 million. They have $3.5 million left in the bank. Meanwhile Republicans raised $3.8 million and spent $1.6 million, with $2.2 million cash on hand.


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