2022 New Jersey Primary Election Takeaways

At a time of record high inflation, summer gas at nearly $5 per gallon, a criminal Vladimir Putin war in Ukraine, the imminent repeal of Roe v. Wade, and AR-15 carnage of America’s school children, New Jersey voters shrugged at the June 7th Primary Election.

Some in-person voting takeaways:

First of all, the two-party establishment got behind three juniors and they won convincingly in the overall moribund political atmosphere:

In the C-10 Democratic Primary, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (son of the late Congressman Donald Donald Payne, sr.) annihilated IMani Oakley, a credible progressive challenger.

In the CD-7 Republican Primary, Tom Kean, Jr. (son of former Governor Tom Kean, Sr.) collected 45% of the vote against a cannibalizing GOP field, doubling the vote total of his nearest competitor: 23,251 to 12,005 (Phil Rizzo).

In the CD-8 Democratic Primary, Rob Menendez, Jr. (son of sitting U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Sr.) mopped up with 90% of the vote.

The party lines held for all three of these name candidates, and the Hudson County and Essex County Democratic machines proved too much for any challenger to even get within striking distance. In their home county of Essex, Payne beat Oakley 15-1.

As is his preference, Kean ran a cocoon-style campaign, ignoring attempts by his opponents to kick dirt RINO dirt at him, and mostly running from the media.  In retrospect never in danger, Payne, by contrast, ran as if he was going to lose, making himself available to reporters and pulling out every trick he could muster to complement and augment line dominance.

Voter turnout was abysmal.

In Democratic Party stronghold Hudson County – the land of Frank Hague, who once put Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the White House – turnout was 8.37%.

Ballots Cast
32,782
Registered Voters
391,778

In Ocean, a GOP stronghold, turnout was 14.47%.

Ballots Cast
64,781
Registered Voters
447,702

In Somerset County, the heart of the CD-7 battleground, which features a general election rematch between Tom Kean, Jr. and incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski, 6,833 Democrats voted unofficially (6,538 for Malinowski), compared to 10,035 Republicans (4,767 for Kean).

Other takeaways:

Two anti-establishment Republicans defeated their primary opponents in defiance of where the strength of the party line should have given their opponents the edge.

In CD-5, Frank Pallotta (on the strength of his vote totals in Passaic and Sussex) beat Nick de Gregorio (who had the backing of the one vaunted Bergen County Republican Organization).

Pallotta will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) in a rematch of their 2020 showdown, which Gottheimer won 53.2-45.6%. Since then, the district has gotten slightly more Democratic.

In CD-11, Paul DeGroot defeated Tayfun Selen.

Selen had the backing of the Morris County Republican Party and the party line. But his campaign, which emphasized his own biographical story – never adequately countered a twin barrel attack from DeGroot and a third candidate, Toby Anderson, which depicted Turkish immigrant Selen as a tool of Turkey. In a sign of name ID strength in defiance of the party line (and also, the effectiveness of negative campaigning) veteran Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo simultaneously beat Sarah Neibart, who had the support of the party organization.

While MAGA candidates in CD-7 killed one another off and Pallotta and DeGroot (a moderate) ran more localized campaigns, Donald Trump acolyte Mike Crispi, a former conservative talk show host, put together a fairly credible performance against 42-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) even as Smith beat him by 20 points.

That’s 20 points, not 80 points, like Payne over Oakley (see below):

AP estimates
95.0% of votes counted
Christopher Smith wins. AP race call at 9:35 p.m. on June 7, 2022.
Christopher Smith (i)
R
31,887 votes 57.6%
Mike Crispi
R
20,498 votes 37.0%
Steve Gray
R
2,220 votes 4.0%
Mike Blasi
R
733 votes 1.3%
With no U.S. Senate or presidential contest at the top of the ticket, a culture of near-political despair prevailed, as the cycle unofficially coughed up  less than 8% voter turnout in Passaic, with a lot of the Paterson districts hovering in the 3-4% range, and many between 1-2%.

 

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