“There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and hence are voting for the entrenched Establishments.” – David Foster Wallace,
In the midst of Trump threats endangering what we hold most dear, a happy warrior governor promoting our better angels, energized activist warriors on the front lines, and demoralized, vacillating Republicans in the rearguard, this is a midterm election like no other. For Democrats the race has been almost as much about who we oppose as who we support. The Primary represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to select candidates for a General Election where we might add up to four new Democrats to our congressional delegation and keep a threatened Democrat in office. With 12 seats available for each party there are 27 Democrats and 22 Republicans in the Primary. The Primary election takes place on Tuesday. If you are unfamiliar with the candidates who will be on your ballot, you still have plenty of time to learn about them. If you are registered you should have received a printed copy of the ballot by now. This is our moment.
So let’s take a look at the current race. An * denotes an Incumbent.
Establishment vs. Anti-Establishment Candidates: Nowhere is this more obvious than in CD 2 where JEFF VAN DREW (D) is the ultimate ugly Establishment Candidate who, while opposing sensible gun legislation, marriage equality and abortion, nonetheless, has the party’s endorsement and line in all eight counties. TANZIRA “TANZIE” YOUNGBLOOD (D), the polar opposite, is a progressive with a slogan of “NJ Democrats 4 Change.”
In the Republican Primary there are also Establishment Candidates supported by the party and those who align themselves with Trump. Such is the case in CD 5 where JOHN MCCANN has party support, and STEVEN LONEGAN uses the slogan “Republicans Making America Great Again.” It is similar in CD 2 where SETH GROSSMAN trumpets “Make America Great Again Republicans.” The Republican Establishment in much of blue New Jersey seems leery of Trump.
The chameleon candidate: Here the evolving Establishment CD 7’s LEONARD LANCE* (R) changes his positions and behavior according to the situation as he desperately tries to retain control of his fiefdom. In the Primary his challengers are RAAFAT BARSOOM (“True Conservative”), and Lindsay Brown (“A New Vision for New Jersey”). The Primary Democratic candidates are Establishmen TOM MALINOWSKI and two anti-establishment individuals GOUTAM JOIS (“DEMOCRATS #RESIST”), and PETER JACOB (“REFORM DEMOCRATS FOR NEW JERSEY”).
A possible chance to defeat a Trump crony: CD 3’s TOM MACARTHUR* (R), who faces no Primary competitor, opposes abortion, marriage equality, and restricting guns. He served as an author and lead negotiator for TrumpCare 2.0 and as a chief advocate for the GOP’s tax reform bill. Nor does Andy Kim (D) face a a Primary challenger. He pledges to serve the American people not corporations, to stand with American workers, veterans and retirees, and to lower healthcare and drug costs. It’s never too early to lend support to KIM in the General and to rid ourselves of toady MACARTHUR.
The dullest Primary races: CD 3 where neither TOM MACARTHUR* (R) nor ANDY KIM (D) face any competition and CD 8 where neither ALBIO SIRES* (D) nor JOHN R MUNIZ (R) face competition. Other candidates who face no competition are CD 12 BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN* (D), CD 9 ERIC P. FISHER (R), CD 6 RICHARD J. PEZZULLO (R), CD 5 JOSH GOTTHEIMER* (D), CD 10 AGHA KHAN (R) and CD 4 CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH* (R).
Why a race without competition is still important: People who vote in the Primary are more likely to vote in the General, so even in a non- competitive Primary such as CD 5 it is important to get out the vote for JOSH GOTTHEIMER* (D). The National Republican Party is throwing a lot of money against him. Also plenty of people voting demonstrates enthusiasm for the candidate and hence increases motivation for others to support and donate as the General approaches.
The most crowded race and where activists roared the loudest: The Open Seat CD 11 with five Democrats, the most competitive being progressives MIKIE SHERRILL, who has the party line, and TAMARA HARRIS (“Real Democrat”). There are also five Republicans. The most competitive probably are ANTONY E. GHEE and JAY WEBBER. See preview image above of activists gathering outside CD 11 Rep. Frelinghuysen’s office which soon led to his retirement.
How the Cook Report currently rates the General Election outcome: Seven races are currently rated “Safe.” The remains five are in play:
- CD 2 Open Seat: Lean Democratic;
- CD 3 TOM MACARTHUR* (R): Lean Republican;
- CD 5 JOSH GOTTHEIMER* (D): “Likely Democratic”;
- CD 7 LEONARD LANCE* (R): Republican Toss-Up;
- CD 11 Open Seat: Republican Toss-Up.
You also have an opportunity:
- To vote for a U. S. Senator: If you are a Democrat your choice is either ROBERT MENENDEZ* (Democratic Committee) or LISA MCORMICK (“Democrat for Change”). In the Republican Party your choice is BOB HUGIN (“Republican for Responsible Government”) or Brian Goldberg (“Republicans Making America Great Again.”)
- And to vote for Assembly candidates in a few legislative districts: LD 15, HUNTERDON (part) – MERCER (part) Counties: Democrat VERLINA REYNOLDS-JACKSON* and Republican TRACY R. SINATRA; LD 32, BERGEN (part) – HUDSON (part) Counties: Democrat PEDRO MEJIA; LD 34 ESSEX (part) – PASSAIC (part) Counties: Democrat BRITNEE N. TIMBERLAKE*; and LD 36 BERGEN (part) – PASSAIC (part) Counties: Democrat CLINTON CALABRESE*.