2016 Somerset County Sheriff’s Race The Costliest In Provenzano Era

The 2016 Somerset County Sheriff’s race will go down as the most expensive campaign for that office in the last 15 years.

According to the latest contribution and expenditure reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, the two candidates for sheriff – longtime Republican incumbent Frank Provenzano and his Democratic challenger, former township police Lt. Darrin Russo, a newcomer to politics – have already spent $164,721 on the race.

Provenzano both raised and spent the most ever since he first ran for sheriff in 2001, raising $200,990 and spending, as of earlier this month, $147,425.

Provenzano’s expenditures are more than eight times that of his opponent, who spent $17,296 as of the last filing.

Provenzano’s total expenditures to date are just about twice the highest he’d spent in any race prior to this year. In 2001, his first run at sheriff, Provenzano spent $74,175.

The money raised by both candidates includes “in-kind” donations from third parties. In both cases, the candidates’ state parties purchased literature, postage and other services for their campaigns.

Russo’s contributions amounted to less than half of that of Provenzano, totaling $91,206 as of 11 days before the election.

These figures are from the 11-day pre-election reports mandated by state law, and 48-hour contribution/expenditure reports filed since then. The contribution and expenditure figures for both candidates are likely to rise by the time the final campaign reports are filed 2o days after the election.

In contrast, the only money raised in local township races was $4,941 by Township Councilman Charles Onyejiaka. The incumbent Democrat running to fill an unexpired term in Ward 3 is being challenged by Republican Beverly Brigs-Lawson, who said in papers filed with ELEC that she has not yet reached the spending threshold of $4,500 required for reporting.

There are no ELEC filings on record for this year by any the three Board of Education candidates on the ballot. Two candidates entered the race late and have also not yet shown up in ELEC’s database.


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