Up – Governor Phil Murphy: With the passage of Referendum Item #1, Phil Murphy can tout a policy victory point on legal marijuana. The governor has championed the idea from the outset of his term, but was unable to get the matter resolved legislatively. By putting the matter to the people, Murphy can claim he was on “the right side of history” and assert a win for social and criminal justice, but while he caught the football, he had to pass it to the voters to see it carried across the goal line.
Down – George Norcross: Having seen his candidate Brigid Callahan Harrison trashed in the primaries against Amy Kennedy, and the rise of Republican Senator Mike Testa as a South Jersey force to be reckoned with, Norcross’s marble plinth is showing some cracks in its base. Congressman Donald Norcross, however, has defended his seat handily, and while there may be some daylight between George and Senate President Steve Sweeney, any fissures in the Norcross base will not penetrate too deeply as yet.
Up – Congressman Jeff Van Drew: While the jury is still out as to whether or not Van Drew will carry his district, the fact that the congressman, who was vilified by the Democratic Party not only in New Jersey, but nationally, and was branded a “traitor” by Governor Murphy just ahead of the election, has held on speaks volumes. South Jersey voters trusted Van Drew when he was a D and significant, perhaps the majority—we shall see, bloc still is confident in the conservative Dem-turned-Rep. Van Drew himself appeared wobbly at first, trying to walk back his “undying support” to Trump, but his base kept the faith regardless.
Down – Tom Kean, Jr.: The name of Kean does not carry the same lustre it did, opponents argue, saying that Kean, defeated by Tom Malinowski by a sizeable margin, failed to uphold the honorable and almost aristocratic expectation of a bygone kinder, gentler Republican Party by passively acquiescing to Trump-style attacks. In an ugly campaign full of at times vile hyperbole and eye-rolling jabs exchanged between the two Toms, pulling a victory, at least, could have allowed for an ends-justified-the-means rationalization. But no luck for Kean. His third defeat, the Kean brand may have run its course, bad news for Old Guard Republicans uncomfortable with the GOP rhetoric post-2016 and resigned to apathy.
Up – North Jersey Democrats: With relatively few upsets to speak of, the Democratic Party bosses north of Trenton can sit back smugly, riding the status quo. All but certainly returning Gottheimer, Pascrell, Watson Coleman, Pallone, Payne, Malinowski, and Sherrill with comfortable margins, North Jersey’s blue kingpins did just fine.
Down – The NJ GOP: Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moench represented the Republican Party in court to force election officials to reveal the number of Election Day VBMs were recorded at polling stations. They said that they wanted to use that information to keep track of ballots, but Judge Marcy C. Jacobson struck it down. She ruled that the law requires only machine ballots and provisional ballots be counted every two hours.
Up – Chris Smith: It might seem a little lonely for Chris Smith as the only certain Republican member of the Congressional delegation—we must wait to see if Van Drew pulls it off—but Smith has proven himself a survivor since 1981 and a Republican able to maintain his appeal in a state that is more sapphire than ruby. The blue wave failed to sweep him away, nor New Jersey discontent with Donald Trump. Smith’s roots run deep and have served him and his constituencies well. No Democrat should approach Smith with any illusions of an easy fight.