7th District race: $2.86 million

The most competitive legislative race in Burlington County this year was also the most expensive.

Democrats and Republicans running in the 7th District raised a combined $3.16 million and wound up spending $2.86 million, according to post-election campaign finance reports.

The totals were the third highest of any of the legislative races, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, which released the reports Monday.

All 120 seats in the Legislature were up for grabs, but the 7th District Assembly race was one of only a few that were considered competitive.

The campaign finance reports bear out the desire of both parties to secure the district’s seats.

Incumbent Assemblyman Herb Conaway and his Democratic running mates, Troy Singleton and Gail Cook, spent more than $1.2 million during the campaign. A joint campaign fund also spent $823,939, although some of that spending was actually transfers of funds from the joint account to the individual accounts.

Republican Sen. Diane Allen spent $150,705, and GOP Assembly candidates Chris Halgas and Jim Keenan spent a combined $618,135.

Allen easily defeated Cook to win re-election, but Conaway and Singleton only narrowly bested Keenan and Halgas.

The post-election reports showed a blitz of spending by both campaigns during the last week, with Singleton using nearly $500,000 for television advertising time compared with $305,000 by his GOP opponents.

Conaway and Singleton were aided by large donations from state Democratic campaign funds as well as other Democratic lawmakers, such as former Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts.

The political action committee Better Education for New Jersey Kids spent $97,000 on mailers and radio ads endorsing Singleton because of his positions in support of education reform measures such as school vouchers and changes to teacher tenure.

Statewide, the PAC spent $412,564.

The other district races in the county featured much less spending, although it was much more lopsided.

In the 8th District, incumbent Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego spent $68,172 during her uncontested race, and a campaign fund she shared with GOP Assembly running mates, incumbent Scott Rudder and Freeholder Chris Brown, spent $283,386, including more than $30,000 on television advertising during the last week.

Rudder and Brown easily won the district’s two Assembly seats, defeating Democrats Anita Lovely and Pam Finnerty and independent Ed Forchion, all of whom spent under the reporting threshold.

The finance reports also showed lopsided spending in the county races.

Republicans Leah Arter and Joseph Howarth spent $444,475 during their successful campaign for two seats on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders, and incumbent Surrogate George Kotch spent $175,158 to get re-elected.

Democratic incumbent Freeholder Mary Anne Reinhart and running mate Machell Still-Pettis spent $34,395 in their losing effort. Surrogate challenger Sander Friedman spent $47,926.

David Levinsky: 609-871-8154;

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