New Jersey is a crucial state in Democrats’ push to retake control of the House in November. On Tuesday, the state’s primary voters will decide which candidates will carry that fight in November.
There are a number of reasons Democrats are prioritizing New Jersey in 2018. For one, President Donald Trump is extremely unpopular in the blue and suburban state. And the main Republican accomplishment, the tax bill, is particularly bad for New Jerseyans. A higher percentage of residents will see their taxes increase than in any other state, according to a Tax Policy Center report. There are five Republicans in the New Jersey congressional delegation, and Democrats are targeting all of them.
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New Jersey Senate: Bob Menendez seeks a third term
Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez is running for reelection, and the only other Democrat on the ballot is community news website publisher Lisa McCormick.
As for the Republicans, pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, construction company executive Brian Goldberg, and attorney Dana Wefer are all running. Hugin, a self-funder, has poured $7.5 million into his campaign already — he’s expected to win the GOP primary fairly easily. The only reason the general election contest might get interesting in this blue state is that Menendez faced trial last year on corruption charges. The jury failed to agree on a verdict, the prosecution ended with a mistrial, and the Justice Department decided to drop the charges rather than try a second time. Even though he wasn’t convicted, none of this looked great politically for Menendez.
New Jersey’s Second Congressional District: a retirement gives Democrats a big opportunity
Democrats were thrilled when Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo decided to retire after 24 years in Congress because it gave them an opportunity to contest this district at the southern end of New Jersey.
There are four Democrats running: state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood, former Cory Booker aide Will Cunningham, and farmer Nathan Kleinman. Since Trump won this district by about 4 points, the party thought that Van Drew, a moderate state senator, would be their strongest nominee, but his voting record (he’s voted against same-sex marriage and often backs business interests on environmental matters) is making him vulnerable in a Democratic primary. Youngblood has gotten the most attention, as a progressive black woman running against a moderate white man with the backing of the state’s establishment.
Meanwhile, the Republican field is generally viewed as weak
Engineer Hirsh Singh, former Assembly member Samuel Fiocchi, lawyer Seth Grossman, and former FBI agent Robert Turkavage are all running. Singh leads in county party endorsements, which are particularly important in New Jersey because they’re printed on the ballot — he won four of eight county GOP endorsements in the district.
New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District: the most Republican-leaning congressional district in the Garden State
In the center of the state is the most Republican-leaning district in New Jersey, but Navy veteran Josh Welle and former Asbury Park Council member Jim Keady think they have a chance in November against incumbent Rep. Chris Smith. Josh Welle won all three Democratic County party endorsements and leads his rival Keady in fundraising, while Keady has the backing of the Bernie Sanders-aligned group Our Revolution.
New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District: where the Democrat is on defense
This district was one of Democrats’ rare 2016 House pickups, as lawyer Rep. Josh Gottheimer defeated the deeply conservative longtime incumbent Scott Garrett by a little over 4 percentage points. Republicans hope they can take back the seat, and veteran conservative activist and former Mayor Steve Lonegan is facing off against former Council member John McCann in the GOP primary.
New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District: the most endangered Republican incumbent in the state
Former State Department official Tom Malinowski, attorney Goutam Jois, and activist Peter Jacob are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance, the likely Republican candidate. Lance is the only New Jersey Republican in a district Hillary Clinton won (by about 1 percentage point), so he’s naturally one of Democrats’ top targets in the state. Malinowski, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor in the Obama administration, has the party’s backing and blew away his rivals in fundraising. Peter Jacob, who has pledged not to accept PAC money, has the Our Revolution endorsement.
New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District: who will replace Rodney Frelinghuysen?
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who’s been in Congress since 1995, chose to retire rather than run again, so Democrats have a big opportunity in this wealthy suburban district that Trump won by just 0.9 percent.
The Democrats in the race are former Navy pilot and prosecutor Mikie Sherrill, entrepreneur and advocate Tamara Harris, research scientist Alison Heslin, lawyer Mitchell Cobert, and history professor Mark Washburne. Sherrill has far surpassed her rivals in fundraising (she’s one of the top Democratic challenger fundraisers in the country) and won all the county-line endorsements.
There are five Republicans running as well
Assembly member Jay Webber, entrepreneur Peter De Neufville, investment banker and Army Reserve Maj. Antony Ghee, liberal Republican Martin Hewitt, and former concert promoter/Roger Stone employee Patrick Allocco are running on the GOP side. Jay Webber is the expected GOP nominee.