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A fascinated insider reflected on the senate race race in LD1, that competitive contest in South Jersey where state Senator Bob Andrzejczak (D-1) is trying to fend off Republican challenger Mike Testa.
Election Day questions:
Does Jeff Van Drew’s decision to oppose the impeachment inquiry depress Democrats who otherwise would back the Van Drew Team of Andrzejczak, Land and Milam?
Or has Testa misplayed by going to far to the right in an all-out idelogical identification with the Trump wing of the party? Former senators Nick Asselta (R) and Van Drew (D) labored to find the non-ideological center of a district that is one of the poorest and richest districts in the state, defined as much by glamorous marina life in the Cape May portion of the district as poverty stricken former factory towns in Cumberland.
Democrat Van Drew strove to work with Governor Chris Christie, and – in a critical moment as he prepared to ascend to the senate – opposed the asset monetization plan favored by then-Governor Jon Corzine. Republican Asselta outdueled Van Drew for the support of the AFL-CIO in 2007, and opposed a college development plan in an area populated by endangered species, which Van Drew supported.
Andrzejczak is trying to be that kind of pragmatic legislator, arguably in the mold of those men.
But to Republican State Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt’s point when he campaigned here for Testa, the 1st is the only NJ legislative district that went for Trump that is currently overseen by a Democratic senator. In very turbulent and partisan times, will the Democrats’ impeachment undertaking in Washington galvanize Republicans in a Republican-leaning district friendly to the president?
Will Testa’s co-chairmanship of the president’s reelection campaign – a partisan dig-in at odds with Van Drew’s and Asselta’s political, prove a better strategy in a low turnout election where the two sides are trying to pull their bases to the polls?
Will the scorched earth TV ads against Testa (who sent more mail than past Van Drew Team opponents) prove too overwhelming, depress turnout, and give Andrzejczak – armed with an organization built over a period of 20 years – the GOTV edge?
Another interesting point is that while Andrzejczak is Van Drew’s disciple, Testa – grandson of the first elected mayor of Vineland – is more like Van Drew in terms of projecting a natural political animal vibe.
The rural district race had multiple pecial dynamics, which distinguished it from other contests more obviously defined merely by suburban, white educated voter Trump backlash.