TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A new state report shows special interest spending in last year's election spiked by 34 percent, or nearly $19 million, more than in the previous gubernatorial election year.

The report published Wednesday by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission said $74 million was spent in the 2017 contest when governor, Senate and Assembly were all on the ballot.

That's up from about $55 million in 2013, when Republican Chris Christie was re-elected in a landslide.

The biggest change came from higher spending by independent groups, organizations that influence elections beyond candidates and political parties.

The biggest spender last year was the New Jersey Education Association, which backed Democratic winner Phil Murphy over Republican Kim Guadagno.

The report tallied contributions to candidates and parties, independent spending and lobbying.

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