Recent Republican primaries have provided us with fantastic entertainment, from the Ronald Reagan lovefest at the first GOP presidential debate in 2007 to Carly Fiorina’s now infamous demon sheep ad. While New Jersey’s Republican primaries featured no chicken-bartering candidates or salacious stories of Republican-on-Republican philandery, they offered New Jersey Democrats reason for both laughter and hope, at least on the congressional level.
The night’s biggest contest was the NJ-03 Republican primary, where two Republicans squared off for the right to face freshman Democrat John Adler in November. Jon Runyan managed to fend off tea party candidate and ’08 primary losed Justin Murphy, but not without some difficulty. Republicans are probably beginning to fear that their novice candidate might be no better at running for office than he is at running the 40 yard dash.
In NJ-04, Chris Smith spanked carpet-and-tea bagging Alan Bateman, with a little help from his friend Michelle Bachmann. In 2008, Rush Holt trounced Bateman in the general election in NJ-12.
Congressman Holt will feel a lot better about his chances this fall after watching the train wreck that was the Republican Primary. Establishment candidate Scott Sipprelle squeaked out a narrow victory over tea-bagger David Corsi despite outraising him more than 100 to 1. Holt won more votes than either Republican despite running unopposed.
Elsewhere, Republican incumbents fended off tea party challengers. David Larsen came the closest in NJ-07, falling to Leonard Lance 56-31. After the primary, Lance spoke of the need for Republicans to “extend a hand of friendship to those in the Tea Party movement.” Lance seems far more eager to reach out to right-wing extremists than the president who offered a health care plan very similar to the one championed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Lance’s voting record and recent rhetoric belie his reputation as a moderate.
The two tea party candidates who also won the support of the Republican establishment, Roland Straten and Dale Glading, easily won their primaries in NJ-08 and NJ-01 respectively. The tea-baggers only other success of the night, at least on the Congressional level, seems to be in NJ-06, where Anna Little leads Diane Gooch by 63 votes with almost all precincts reporting. Republican primary turnout was again low, and as in NJ-12, the Democratic incumbent, here Frank Pallone, won more votes than either Republican.
Three congressional districts had no Republican primary. Incumbent Democrats Donald Payne and Albio Sires can look forward to easy victories over Michael Alonso and Henrietta Dwyer in NJ-10 and NJ-13. Teabaggers in NJ-05 decided against challenging incumbent Scott Garrett in the Republican primary, presumably because there was no room to the right of Garrett to run.