New Jersey voters flocked to the polls on November 3rd, sending a strong message of moderation to Washington and Trenton. Governor Murphy, who was expected to sail to an easy election day victory, won re-election. Governor Murphy’s Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, has not formally conceded, because there are still mail-in ballots yet to be counted. It should be noted, however, that most of these ballots appear to be from districts with historic Democrat leanings.
While the Democrats retained control of the Governor’s Office, their majorities in both the General Assembly and State Senate shrunk following the loss of several seats in both chambers.
In a stunning upset, Senate President Steve Sweeney lost his bid for re-election, although he has not yet conceded while votes are still left to be counted. This throws the all-important Senate President’s position up for grabs. There is speculation about any number of senior members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, who have expressed interest and have started to make moves to secure votes for this powerful leadership post. As if Democrats were not divided enough after Tuesday’s shocking results at the polls, a leadership fight in the Senate could lead to even greater division.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have united behind Senator Steve Oroho from Sussex County for Minority Leader. Senator Oroho has been the Senate Republican Budget Officer, playing a crucial leadership role on behalf of his Republican colleagues in the State Senate. He is a well-recognized fiscal conservative with a strong record of bipartisanship. Accepting the position, he said Republicans “want New Jerseyans to know that our caucus heard the message sent by voters on Election Day loud and clear. We’ll work tirelessly to ensure that government respects people’s rights, addresses their concerns, and makes living in the Garden State more affordable for everyone.”
In the Assembly, Speaker Craig Coughlin was re-selected as Speaker for a third-term. In addition, the following Assemblymembers were selected for leadership roles as well:
- Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, Majority Leader (for a seventh term)
- Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Majority Conference Leader (for a second term)
- Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Speaker Pro Tempore (first term)
Some election results indicate political changes within certain districts previously led by incumbent Democrats:
- District 2– Republican Senator Vince Polistina and his running mates, former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian (R) and former Deputy Attorney General Claire Swift (R) swept all three seats, defeating Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D), Assemblyman John Armato (D) and Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick.
- District 3– Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro were defeated by Republican challengers Ed Durr, a commercial truck driver, Beth Sawyer, and Bethanne McCarthy-Patrick.
- District 8- Republican Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield defeated Democrat Senator Dawn Addigeo. Stanfield’s running mates, Hammonton Councilman Michael Torrisi and Acting Manchester Township Administrator Brandon Umba, captured the two Assembly seats.
- District 11– Republican Shrewsbury Councilwoman Kim Eulner and Marilyn Piperno capture two Assembly seats, defeating Assemblywoman Joanne Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.
In one bright spot for Democrats, former Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker succeeds Republican Senator Kip Bateman seat and Democrats held on to the two Assembly seats in Jack Ciattarelli’s home district.
Neighborhood new car dealers can view the election results as a “win” for common sense government and moderation. Democrats continue to control the Governor’s Office and both Houses of the Legislature. But voters have sent a very strong message that they want to see less emphasis on the Democrats “progressive” agenda and more focus on “kitchen table” issues that matter to Main Street businesses and suburban voters.