March Madness this year had its share of surprises beginning with the history-making UMBC seeded #16 defeating in the first round my alma mater UVA seeded #1 (heart-breaking.) Likewise in our congressional primary it is always possible that the unexpected might occur. Nonetheless, the brackets are now filled for the primary so we know the players and have some idea of their potential. With 51 candidates in the mix, this is the largest number in a quarter of a century. With Trump so unpopular in NJ and threats to so many progressive policies, Democrats are highly energized in an already Blue state. The goal: TAKE BACK CONGRESS.
Of particular interest at the moment are the two open seats previously held by Republicans, the three other contested Republican seats, plus, the Democratic seat of Josh Gottheimer which he won against Scott Garrett (R) in 2016 but only by a whisker. The Cook Report lists an unusually high five of these seats in play and one safe, plus, the other seats (all Democratic) as Safe. Shortly after
March April 15 you can read the cash holdings of the candidates by going to the FEC site here. and entering New Jersey.
CD 02 Open Seat with Frank LoBiondo departing. Cook: Leans Democratic
DEMOCRAT Frontrunner Jeff Van Drew, ultra conservative but good vote-getter, currently a State Senator, has the advantage of being on the ballots in all eight county party lines. Tanzira “Tanzie” Youngblood is the progressive, a retired teacher and a Blue Star Mother whose son is an active duty service member in the U.S. Navy. Other candidates: William Cunningham (“True Dem. values”), and Nate Kleinman (“Independent Dem.”)
REPUBLICAN (Most having the party line in one of eight district) Brian Fitzherbert, Seth Grossman, Robert Turkavage, Hirsh Singh, and Sam Fiocchi.
CD 03 Cook: Leans Republican
REPUBLICAN Incumbent Tom MacArthur, New Jersey’s most pro-Trump federal lawmaker, backing the president for legislation curbing the federal deduction for state and local taxes and ending New Jersey’s Medicaid expansion, but he has the party line and the big money. Also Martin Weber (“Veterans healthcare and term limits.”)
DEMOCRAT Andy Kim, former White House National Security Official, Diplomat, Counter-ISIS Coordinator, and Rhodes Scholar, promising to be the most accessible, transparent, and accountable Member of Congress, faces no competition and has the party line.
CD 04 Cook: Safe Republican
REPUBLICAN: Incumbent Chris Smith, serial winner, frequently voting against Trump with no competition.
DEMOCRAT Joshua Welle, “an Afghanistan vet, businessman, and protector of the constitution” has the party line. Jim Keady supports “Medicare for all, protecting our coastal communities, and ending the toxic influence of money in politics.”
CD 05 Cook: Likely Democratic
DEMOCRAT Incumbent Josh Gottheimer, with plenty of money, is a social progressive and fiscal moderate in a Republican leaning district who needs to win big in Bergen County, to counterbalance the other conservative districts. No challenger and has the party line..
REPUBLICAN Both candidates are well known and have a cadre of supporters: Steve Lonegan, a former mayor, (“Making America Great Again”) and John McCann, “Responsible conservative. Proven leadership.” with more party support.
CD 07 07 Cook: Republican Toss Up
REPUBLICAN: Incumbent Leonard Lance, embattled by protesters, a conservative now running slightly more to the left, he has the party line. Lindsay Brown (“A new vision for NJ”) and Raafat Barsoom (“True conservative” )
DEMOCRAT Tom Malinowski has at least five of the six county lines and says, “Born in Poland, grew up in New Jersey served as Assistant Secretary of State under Obama, and spent my career working for human rights and social justice.” Peter Jacob, a social worker opposes big money in politics, supports strong healthcare and seeks to reduce income inequality (“Reform Democrats for NJ”). Goutam Jois says, “Washington is broken, and our shared values are under assault. As an attorney and an activist, I’ve fought to uphold those values – justice, fairness, and dignity – and won (“Democrats#resist”.)
CD 11 Open with Frelinghuysen departing. Cook Republican Toss Up
REPUBLICAN Different candidates have different party lines. Jay Webber currently an Assembyman is quite conservative. Antony Ghee, currently a Director at Bank of America is more moderate. Patrick Allocco “has the interesting idea of voting in line with what voters tell him to do over the internet.” Martin Hewitt, “leans more left.” Peter De Neufville, a “NJ Reagan republican.”
DEMOCRAT Mikie Sherrrill, who has all the party lines, is a Naval Academy graduate and was a Navy pilot and federal prosecutor with four children. She supports better jobs and economy, a better tax reform and preventing gun violence. Tamara Harris is a family advocate – “A change for NJ – A change for Washington.” (“Real Dems”) and has a progressive agenda. Mark Washburne (“Medicare for all.”) Alison Heslin, (“Science to policy.”) Mitchell Cobert, (“Common ground – Common sense.)
One thing to remember, as NJ Spotlight points out, our primaries tend to be poorly attended – The last time the U.S. Senate topped the balloting in 2014, just 13 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans voted. The people who cast ballots tend to be party stalwarts and most typically vote the party line.
Sources: NJ Division of Elections: Unofficial List of Candidates for House of Representatives (04/06/2018). For more info on or from individual candidates, just google their name.