New Jersey Primary Previews

USA Election Watch
5 min readJun 5, 2018


Note: In New Jersey, voters must identify by party to vote in a party primary. They can do so at the polls. About half of New Jerseyans are registered as unaffiliated.

New Jersey U.S. Senate Primary (Democratic defense, incumbent running)

State Info: New Jersey, the extraordinary Garden State, is perhaps one of the fiercest political battlegrounds for the 2018 midterms. A state of over 8.8 million people, it is the most densely populated state in the Union. It is heavily influenced by the massive urban centers of New York City, which borders it to the northwest, and Philadelphia which it borders to the southeast.

Democratic candidates: Bob Menendez (incumbent), Lisa McCormick

Republican candidates: Bob Hugin, Brian D. Goldberg

Race Outlook: The New Jersey Senate race is perhaps one of the most unique in the country, in that it represents a potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbent in a state handily won by Hillary Clinton in 2017 (+14.1%). Bob Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges in 2015, yet fortunately for him the trial resulted in a hung jury and all charges were dropped by the Department of Justice in January of 2018. Menendez has also been out fundraised handily by his likely general election opponent former pharmaceutical chairman Bob Hugin by over $3 million. However, New Jersey has not elected a Republican Senator since 1972, and the 2017 statewide elections saw Democrat Phil Murphy land a sweeping victory to the governorship as well as Democrats outvoting Republicans by a nearly 3:2 margin in State Senate elections. Hugin has positioned himself well for a challenge, but it will be interesting to see how many people vote in each party primary, as it will likely be a solid indicator of competitiveness in the general election.

District 1 (Democrat defense/incumbent running)

Democratic Candidates: Donald Norcross (incumbent), Robert Carlson, Scot John Thomaszewski

Republican Candidate: Paul Dilks

Race Overview: This district includes Camden and much of the Philadelphia suburbs in southwestern New Jersey. It has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) of Democrat +13 and Norcross should be a lock for a third term.

District 2 (Republican defense, incumbent not running)

Democratic Candidates: Jeff Van Drew, Will Cunningham, Nathan Kleinman, Tanzie Youngblood

Republican Candidates: Seth Grossman, Samuel Fiocchi, Hirsh Singh, Robert Turkavage

Race Outlook: After 24 years Frank LoBiondo is calling it quits and retiring from Congress. Though this district, New Jersey’s largest and comprising the southernmost quarter of the state went to Trump by over four points in 2016, Democrats have heavily targeted it, and State Senator Jeff Van Drew is a quality candidate whom has vastly outraised his Democrat and Republican counterparts. The Republican primary should be a dogfight, but going into the general Democrats already have the advantage for this open seat

District 3 (Republican defense, incumbent running)

Republican candidate: Tom McArthur (incumbent)

Democratic candidate: Andy Kim

Race Outlook: Nearly all of New Jersey’s Republican controlled congressional districts are only moderately red, and New Jersey’s 3rd is no different. Represented by Tom McArthur since 2014, the incumbent came under vast public scrutiny for his support of the Obamacare replacement plan and the “McArthur Amendment” regarding pre-existing conditions that bears his name, leading to some raucous town halls in 2017. Challenger Andy Kim has kept up with McArthur on fundraising, and since both are unopposed, this primary race offers a revealing view of a general election bout.

District 4 (Republican defense, incumbent running)

Republican candidate: Chris Smith (incumbent)

Democratic candidates: Josh Welle, Jim Keady

Race Outlook: Elected in the Republican “wave” of 1980, Chris Smith seems likely to survive any potential “blue wave” of 2018. Elected to serve this central New Jersey District 38 years ago, Smith has served as a representative the United Nations General Assembly under presidents Obama and Trump. He was elected in 2016 with over 60% of the vote, yet must fend off respectable Democratic challenges. Welle is the likely choice over Keady.

District 5 (Democrat defense, incumbent running)

Democratic Candidate: Josh Gottheimer (incumbent)

Republican Candidates: Steven Lonegan, John McCann

Race Outlook: Gottheimer defeated a 7-term incumbent in 2016 to win his first term to the United States Congress. This district comprises the northern tip of New Jersey, following the border downward to the southwest and southeast creating an “L” shape. Though the district has a Cook PVI of Republican +3, Gottheimer has raised over $4 million dollars and seems well situated to run victoriously in November. In his way will likely be former mayor Steven Lonegan, whom has raised over a million dollars of his own.

District 6 (Democrat defense, incumbent running)

Republican Candidate: Rich Pezzullo

Democratic Candidates: Frank Pallone (incumbent), Javahn Walker

Race overview: This district in central New Jersey just south of Staten Island has been represented by Frank Pallone since 1993 and is safely democratic. Pallone should win his primary and win his general election matchup against Pezzullo.

District 7 (Republican defense, incumbent running)

Republican Candidates: Leonard Lance (incumbent), Lindsay Brown, Rafat Barsoom

Democratic Candidates: Peter Jacob, Goutam Jois, Tom Malinowski

Race Outlook: Lance won his 2016 matchup in this north central district 54%-43%, and Democrats will be hoping to make it much closer than that this election. Diplomat Tom Malinowski has nearly matched Lance for fundraising and should prove to be a worthy general election opponent.

District 8 (Democrat defense, incumbent running)

Republican candidate: John R. Muniz

Democratic candidate: Albio Sires

Race Outlook: This district includes Elizabeth and parts of Newark and the coast adjacent to Manhattan. It has a Cook PVI of Democrat +27. Sires is safe.

District 9 (Democrat defense, incumbent running)

Republican Candidate: Eric Fisher

Democratic Candidates: Bill Pascrell (incumbent), William Henry

Race outlook: This heavily urban district includes the New Jersey coast of the Hudson River just north of the 8th District. Bill Pascrell should have no problem winning his primary and is the heavy favorite to return to Congress.

District 10 (Democratic defense, incumbent running)

Republican Candidate: Agha Khan

Democratic Candidates: Donald Payne Jr. (incumbent), Aaron Frasor

Race outlook: New Jersey’s most Democratic Congressional district, the 10th includes most of Newark and has been represented by Donald Payne Jr. since 2012. Beforehand it has been represented by his father since 1989. Expect a Payne to continue representing it after 2018 as well.

District 11 (Republican defense, incumbent not running)

Republicans Candidates: Jay Webber, Patrick Allocco, Anton Ghee, Martin Hewitt, Peter de Neufville

Democratic Candidates: Tamara Harris, Mikie Sherrill, Alison Heslin, Mitchell Corbet, Mark Washburne

Race outlook: Rodney Frelinghuysen’s retirement after 24 years leaves a huge political vacuum to be filled in New Jersey’s 11th. A suburban and rural district, it is one of the most targeted districts in the country by Democrats, who look poised to offer a strong challenge to take this seat. Mikie Sherrill has raised over 2.8 million dollars and second in fundraising is Tamara Harris. Lagging behind in third is Jay Webber of the GOP, who likely will win his primary and face Sherrill in Novemeber.

District 12 (Democrat defense, incumbent running)

Republican Candidates: Daryl Kipnis

Democratic Candidates: Bonnie Watson Coleman (incumbent)

Race Outlook: This central New Jersey district went to Hillary Clinton by over 30 points and includes Princeton University. Ms. Watson Coleman has raised over half-a-million dollars and should cruise to victory.



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