With the Assembly General Election only six weeks away on November 3, it’s time to give the candidates attention and lend them support. Some races will be strongly contested. Plus, a few more Democrats in the Assembly would be nice.
Don’t expect Gov. Christie to be much involved as he traditionally has lent little support to his Republican legislative colleagues, and he is busy on the hustings. In 2013 he won a landslide re-election, but Republicans didn’t gain a single seat. So much for his coattails. Now with his low NJ polling results some Republicans are distancing themselves from him. Democrats might want to tar Republicans with Christie’s failures, particularly in devastated Atlantic County and those beach areas where Sandy-afflicted people are still suffering. Nonetheless, these elections turn primarily on local issues.
The full Assembly and one Senate seat are up for elections, so low turnout could result in unexpected consequences. Thus all races matter.
So far the elections have received scant attention in the press and no public polling. Thus it’s difficult to detect what is trending. However, incumbents rule the day with challengers facing uphill battles.
Based on the June primaries and the 2013 General Elections (neither of which are strong predictors) and additional data there appear to be a few competitive races which are discussed below the fold. Also let us know your thoughts on the races.
In this split district, State Senator Democrat Jeff Van Drew (not up for re-election now, but has aspirations for a congressional seat) has made a political career out of steering a right-of-center course. The very low primary turnout resulted in the two Republicans, incumbents SAM FIOCCHI and newcomer JIM SAURO, substantially out-polling the two Democrats, incumbent BOB ANDRZEJCZAK and newcomer R. BRUCE LAND. Prior to 2013 this district had two Democrat assemblymen, but FIOCCI won the general election in 2013 in a close race.
Democrats are undertaking a cable TV ad campaign this following weekend on their behalf and the fact that both candidates are veterans of recent wars might benefit them. Both Republicans have distanced themselves from the governor. Expect a tight race as each party tries to elect its two candidates.
In another split district Sen. Jim Whelan is the leader of the Democrat contingent. In the primary the Democrats, incumbent VINCENT MAZZEO and newcomer COLIN BELL, won with slight majorities over Republicans, incumbent CHRIS BROWN and newcomer WILL PAULS. In 2013 MAZZEO defeated the Republican incumbent by an incredibly close 40 votes.
In a district which includes Atlantic City and environs, Sen. Whelan and the residents are at odds with Gov. Christie over his inaction in the midst of economic devastation. The GOP launched an attack ad last week, and this coming week the Democrats will counter with their own cable TV ad. PolitickerNJ says, “Insiders in Atlantic City have claimed an early lead for Mazzeo’s opponent Assemblyman Chris Brown,” but who really knows whether this is the case. In actuality Mazzeo does not have to defeat Brown, he can retain his seat by beating Pauls. As in LD1 both parties will be trying hard to capture two seats.
Here Democrat Sen. Bob Gordon has long been in the crosshairs of Gov. Christie, but has retained his senate seat. In the very low primary turnout the two Republican challengers, MARK DIPISA and ANTHONY CAPPOLA, slightly out polled incumbent Democrats TIM EUSTACE and JOSEPH LAGANA. In the hotly contested 2013 general election, including TV ads for and against, the two Democrats won with a slight margin of less than 1,000 votes each.
The Democrat incumbents will benefit being in Bergen County where Democrats are in the ascendance including the popular County Executive Jim Tedesco and other recently elected freeholders. Nonetheless, expect a hard-fought battle from the Republicans. Friends of Tim Eustace can attend a Night of Comedy fundraiser on Sunday at 8:00pm at Luka’s Italian Cuisine in Bogota.
I don’t see powerful competition in the 7th where Democrats Herb Conaway and Troy Singleton won handily in both the 2013 race and 2015 primary.
In the 11th Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande won overwhelmingly in the 2013 election but were only slightly ahead of Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Joannn Downey in the primary. Sen. Weinberg recently blasted Angelini and Casagrande over women’s health funding claims.
In the 14th Democrats Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson won by 2,000 and 4,000 over the Republicans in 2013 and had a strong performance in the primary.
In the 18th Democrats Nancy Pinkin and Patrick Diegnan were successful in the primary and did well in 2013.
SOURCE: All data on elections from NJ Diivision of Elections.
What are your thoughts on the Assembly races?