Democrats and unions, fearful that a landslide victory by Gov. Chris Christie will reshape New Jersey’s political landscape, have poured tens of millions of dollars into a record-breaking outside spending campaign that has transformed the state’s election season.
As of last Thursday, according to the state’s election law enforcement board, outside spending for candidates had topped $35 million, twice the amount spent when Mr. Christie, a Republican, was elected in 2009 and the highest recorded by any state except California.
“In this new world of Citizens United, you want to take advantage of all the opportunities you can to advance the candidates you want to support,” said Ginger Gold Schnitzer, director of government relations at the New Jersey Education Association. “We wanted to broaden our participation in the electoral world, using our resources to leverage the energy of other groups.”
If successful, that model is likely to be exported to other state and federal races next year.
“These groups are now operating as surrogate parties,” said Jeffrey M. Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. “They are assuming all of the roles that parties have performed in our past.”