By Colleen O'Dea, NJSpotlight.com
Candidates for federal office and the committees seeking to help elect or block them have spent $27.8 million in New Jersey -- most of that just through September 30, federal election records show.
As much as that is, it pales in comparison with the $41 million spent in the Virginia Senate race, where independent expenditures by political action committees promoting or opposing one candidate or the other exceed the total spending in New Jersey.
Three others states’ Senate races -- Wisconsin, Ohio, and Massachusetts -- also have cost more than all the races in New Jersey combined.
That said, the $9 million spent on the race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, which polls show to be not even close, isn’t pocket change.
Menendez, who holds a double-digit lead over Kyrillos in all polls taken in the past month, had raised more than twice as much as the state senator and had five times more cash on hand -- $8.3 million vs. $1.7 million -- as of their September 30 reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Although he would not seem to need it, the incumbent is also benefitting from two-thirds of the $950,000 in outside PAC and super PAC money spent on the race as of yesterday, with Kyrillos getting $360,000 worth of support from the Patriot Prosperity PAC, according to the Sunlight Foundation's Follow the Unlimited Money website that tracks super PAC spending.
That same group, and $250,000 from Robert Harris, a corporate executive from Holmdel who donates chiefly to Republicans and groups that support them, has made the only independent expenditure in North Jersey's 9th Congressional District, spending nearly $470,000 promoting Republican challenger Shmuley Boteach. All of that went to produce or purchase media ads.
The 9th is also home to the state's most expensive race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, largely because of the bruising Democratic primary in which two sitting congressmen -- William Pascrell and Steve Rothman -- faced off due to redistricting. Pascrell won. All candidates have spent some $6.3 million there through September 30. But as of that date, Pascrell had only $438,000 in cash on hand -- less than the super PAC ad buy for Boteach, who had $580,000 in his campaign account.
, given there are 80,000 more registered Democrats in the district than registered Republicans.