MANALAPAN – It seemed like a pretty sleepy Sunday morning and in truth it was, but that had no impact on the politics swirling around Monmouth County and the rest of New Jersey.
“This is the race to watch,” said Shaun Golden. He’s both the county sheriff and Monmouth County Republican chair, so you figure he may know. Then again, it’s what all local pols say when Election Day is almost upon us.
Golden was talking about CD-3 where incumbent Andy Kim is trying to hold his seat against Bob Healey, the featured speaker at the GOP gathering at the Covered Bridge residential community. Most observers see CD-7 as the state’s featured congressional district, but not Golden. He thinks CD-3 is the big one.
Newly-revamped CD-3 has become more Democratic after redistricting, but Healey said, “We’re neck and neck.”
A key, of course, is Republican-Monmouth County where Healey needs a big turnout – and a big win.
It is fascinating at times to attend political events these days and see how the parties exist in separate universes. The issues of emphasis are completely different.
Healey – and other speakers – talked about rising crime, backing the police and school choice, especially in light of new sex ed standards that Republicans have campaigned against for months.
Democrats likely would have talked about women’s reproductive rights and lack of civility in government, especially after the attack on Paul Pelosi, the Speaker’s husband.
Those issues were not on the agenda for Republicans, at least this morning.
Alex Sauickie III, a newly-sworn Assemblyman, drew cheers when he said he introduced a bill to repeal the new standards.
Healey, whose family is in the yacht business, commented on the state’s anti-business climate, which is another Republican theme.
“We build boats,” he said. “We make something in a state where it’s very hard to make anything.”
As for the Democrats and the aforementioned CD-7, incumbent Tom Malinowski spent part of Saturday hosting a rally in Rahway with various party luminaries, including Governor Phil Murphy.
Republican Tom Kean Jr. has voter registration on his side, an advantage Malinowski hopes to overcome through hard work. Yeah, he thinks it’s as simple as that.
Malinowski, who holds many public events; Kean holds virtually none, pointed out at one of them that his 2018 victory margin, while not overwhelming, was greater than his winning margin (over Kean) in 2020.
He said the difference was that in 2018, he and his volunteers went door-to-door to meet voters. That didn’t happen in 2020 because of the pandemic and Malinowski feels that inability depleted his percentage of the vote. But this year, pandemic concerns have eased and active canvassing is back.
We mentioned the talk of rising crime at the Monmouth event.
Paul DeGroot, the Republican seeking to oust Mikie Sherrill in CD-11, is campaigning hard on that issue as well.
“Enough is enough. Crime is out of control and it is time we have leadership that will stand up to violent crime and keep our streets safe.”
DeGroot put that on his Facebook page in response to news reports of a fatal shooting in Montclair.
One understands the belief rising crime is an issue, but in fairness, Congress has very little control over crime in the streets.
Another interesting race is CD-5 where Republican Frank Pallotta is boasting that his race against Josh Gottheimer is within the “margin of error.”
A few facts.
To the best of my knowledge, there have been no public polls. Campaign polls tend to be unreliable. The district also got more Democratic after the Census.
Early voting has begun.
And as everyone knows, Dems do it better than Republicans.
Bob Hugin, the state GOP chair, wants to change that.
In a recent message to his troops, he said the following:
“It’s important all our supporters know and understand that early in-person machine voting is an easy, safe and secure process.”
According to election researcher Ryan Dubicki, registered Democrats in New Jersey have so far returned about 290,000 mail-in ballots to 97,000 for Republicans.
Let’s see if Republicans do better with early, in-person voting.