TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Democrats outraised Republicans and incumbents hauled in more than challengers in New Jersey's legislative primary contest set for next month, new figures released Tuesday by state regulators show.
Democrats brought in $25 million and have $13 million on hand compared with about $6 million brought in by Republicans, who have $3.1 million on hand, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission. Incumbent lawmakers from raised $28 million and have $14.5 million on hand, while challengers raised $2.8 million and have $1.6 million in cash on hand.
The Commission also said Tuesday that candidates for legislative seats raised $31 million and have $16 million cash on hand, the most the state has seen in at least 20 years. The haul is 21% higher than four years ago, the last time New Jersey had a comparable election.
Democrats are doing better compared to their 2017 haul as well, climbing from almost $21 million raised then to $25 million this year. Republicans, though, raised about $8.5 million four years ago and $5.8 million this year.
All 80 seats in the Assembly and all 40 seats in the Senate, as well as the governor, are on the ballot this year.
Tuesday's fundraising information provides a pre-primary snapshot of how candidates are faring.
The disparities underscore long-standing political realities in New Jersey. Democrats have controlled the Legislature since 2001, and have more than 1 million registered voters on the rolls than Republicans. Incumbents also hold an advantage, particularly in a primary when they typically receive endorsements from county political parties.
“Incumbents tend to draw more funds than challengers because they usually are much better known. Plus, they already are positioned to exert influence on legislation and, unlike most challengers, they may have substantial experience," Election Law Enforcement Commission executive director Jeff Brindle said.
Democrats control the Senate with 25 seats compared to the GOP's 15. In the Assembly, there are 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans. Gov. Phil Murphy is running unopposed in his own reelection primary as a Democrat.
The primary is set for June 2. Voters will be able to cast ballots in person at their usual polling places, unlike in last year's presidential election, when ballots were mostly cast by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.