J_beck_on_tv_110607State Senator-elect Jennifer Beck on election night last month.

Spending on this year’s legislative races blew past the old record set in 2003 by 21 percent, today’s Star-Ledger reports, with one in four races costing more than $1 million.

And our very own 12th-district contest, to the surprise of no one who followed it, was far and away the biggest churner of cash. From the Ledger:

As expected, the most hotly contested race in the fight for 120 legislative seats drew the biggest bucks: the 12th Legislative District showdown, in which Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) ousted incumbent Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth). The two parties spent a combined $5.9 million, making it the second most expensive legislative race ever, behind the $6.1 million clash won by 3rd District Democrats in 2003.

Beck prevailed despite being outspent nearly 6-to-1. She spent just $18 per vote, compared to $114 per vote for the Democratic incumbent, who spent the most ($2.6 million) of any single candidate.

The Ledger also reports that statewide, Democrats outspent Republicans more than 2 to 1 in the general election, in which they added a seat in the Senate but lost two in the Assembly. They’ll have a 23-17 majority in the upper house and a 48-32 margin in the lower house when the new Legislature convenes Jan. 8.

Today’s Record of Hackensack has this lead on its campaign-spending story:

Candidates spent a record $69 million on New Jersey’s legislative races in 2007 even though new campaign-finance laws are in place to restrict the role big money plays in state politics.

The record bests the previous top year by more than $12 million despite pay-to-play campaign-finance laws and a limited clean election initiative that are supposed to be reducing the influence big donors and government contractors have with the state lawmakers.

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