While it wasn’t such a good night for being a Democrat in Middletown or a candidate for state office in Monmouth County, Democrats did increase their majorities in Trenton and a consolidation vote between two Princeton towns to merge into one municipality to save on property taxes is looked at as an anomaly rather than the next wave of the future as many would hope for.
NJspotlight has a pretty good wrap up of last nights events worth reading today:
Despite tough, nasty contests in a few races and more than $25 million spent, very little changed in the New Jersey legislature on election night. The Democrats gained one seat in the Assembly and still control both legislative houses. The Republicans lost all the key races that they targeted and where Gov. Chris Christie campaigned.
In the most hotly contested races, Democratic incumbents James Whelan in South Jersey’s 2nd District and Robert Gordon in North Jersey’s 38th won by relatively comfortable margins.
And Richard Codey, the incumbent Democratic senator in the 27th, prevailed. Some had predicted he would run into trouble given that redistricting had shifted several Morris County municipalities into his home territory.
The Democrats also picked up one Assembly seat in the 4th.
Two ballot questions, one statewide and one local, also won.
About two-thirds of New Jersey voters approved the one question on the ballot: to allow sports betting in New Jersey should Congress give other states besides the four already approved the OK at a future date. And voters in Princeton and Princeton Township also approved a momentous merger question. It would be the first time in more than half a century that two New Jersey communities of any real size agreed to merge.
Democrats gloated over the gain of one Assembly seat.
“Chris Christie is all coat and no tail,” proclaimed John Wisniewski, chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and an Assemblyman, to cheering crowds at the Bergen County Democrats’ celebration. “Chris Christie kept saying if he didn’t lose any seats, this would be an historic election for Republicans. Well, there’s one more Democrat going to Trenton.”
Christie tried to set low expectations for the Republicans’ chances, saying governors almost always lose seats in midterm elections.
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said the circumstances this year were vastly different.
“It is a very disappointing night for Gov. Christie,” said Dworkin, adding the GOP should have gained as many as six seats. “He outraised the Democrats by millions of dollars. He put his high approval rating and his personal reputation on the line by going on network television in New York and Philadelphia. And in the end, he wasn’t able to even keep the status quo in the legislature, much less win the several seats that Republicans might have expected given his efforts.”
When the state legislative seats top the ballot, turnout in New Jersey’s midterm elections is notoriously low. In 2007, the last time the Senate led the ballot, 32 percent of voters turned out statewide. Most counties reported voter turnout hovering between 20 and 30 percent — Cape May had a high of 38 percent — despite a beautifully warm, sunny day.
Although most voters don’t see these races as important, the stakes were high.
With a 24-16 majority in the Senate, the Democrats went into the night only three seats shy of a veto-proof majority in the upper house. They needed those 27 votes back in July when they sought to override Gov. Chris Christie’s line-item vetoes of more than a dozen spending items cut from the state budget. They didn’t think that would happen and, at least, defended all their seats.
However, if the Republicans could pick up five seats, a scenario most saw as unlikely, they would give Christie at least one house to help advance his agenda.
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