POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Democrats outraise Republicans ahead of Assembly race

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Democratic candidates for Assembly seats in this year’s contest have raised more than three times as much as Republicans, according to new data out Wednesday.

Democratic candidates in the Nov. 5 election have raised $11 million, compared with $3.3 million for Republicans, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission. Democrats also outspent Republicans $5.7 million to $1.4 million.

The Assembly, where Democrats have a 54 to 26 seat advantage over Republicans, tops the ballot this year, except in a single southern New Jersey district where there is a state Senate race as well.

Experts have said they expect there to be low turnout and for Democrats to maintain control of the Assembly. Though Republicans are contesting them in GOP-leaning districts that Democrats picked up in recent years.

Democrats have 956,000 more registered voters in the state than Republicans and control state government.

The commission also showed that just a handful of Assembly races account for the lion’s share of spending so far in the election.

The most money in a race so far — about $1 million — has been spent in the 21st District in northern New Jersey, which includes parts of Morris, Somerset and Union counties.

The contest features Republican incumbents Jon Bramnick, who is Assembly minority leader, and running mate Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and Democratic newcomers Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.

The district has become more Democratic since 2015, the last time that just the Assembly was on the ticket.

The commission also said that independent group spending is down sharply this year compared with 2017 and 2015.

Those groups have spent about $728,000 this year, but in 2017 they doled out nearly $11 million in the same reporting period. In 2015, those groups had spent $5.4 million.

The decrease in spending comes as a federal court considers a challenge by Americans for Prosperity to a recent state law that would require certain political groups to disclose their donors.

Americans for Prosperity has said that disclosure requirements could lead to people withholding contributions.