Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Primary Election Day Edition

WHO’S UP

Mikie Sherrill 

Despite low voter turnout everywhere including her home base of Essex (12%) the retired Navy helicopter pilot pulled off a strong victory on Tuesday night (35,000 votes, compared to 16,455 for GOP rival Jay Webber) as she positions herself for a general election showdown with Assemblyman Jay Webber for the seat left vacant by retiring U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11). It’s not all good news for Sherrill and other Democrats competing to expand the party’s national footprint. Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) poor showing will cause battleground Democratic candidates to give a hard look at their campaign interfacing with the statewide nominee, as they seek to individuate themselves in preparation for a $40 million fusillade from retired Celgene executive Bob Hugin, who will face Menendez at the top of the ticket. But based on last night’s performance, Sherrill is in a strong position.

Jay Webber

The Assemblyman from the 26th District ran an impressive conventional campaign to secure victory (40%-31%-22%) in CD11. He apparently mortally wounded Tony Ghee early with his pointed questioning about Ghee’s party loyalties, then held off a financially robust challenge from second place finisher Peter DeNeufville by branding his second rival as too cozy with liberal causes. Classic movement conservative Webber. Still, he lost three out of four counties. Democrats are rubbing their hands together in expectation of Sherrill’s showdown with the fiercely pro-life Republican at the height of the #me2 movement. But they don’t know Webber, a relentless strategic campaigner who knows how to exploit his opponents’ weaknesses. One significant factor that the GOP has to worry about: turnout. Sherrill nearly doubled Webber’s totals. The other, of course, is that Webber – in ground zero #me2 movement territory and Sherrill on the other side of the barricade – will have to deal with President Donald J. Trump hanging on his neck.

Sires, left, and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.

Albio Sires

West New York went overwhelmingly for the Congressman’s slate of Democratic County Committee

Amy DeGise

candidates on Tuesday night (picking up 46 of 50 they competed for; compared to 10-12 wins for a rival slate backed by Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack), which bodes well for Hudson County Democratic Organization candidate Amy DeGise, who also could benefit from HCDO wins in Bayonne (100 solid for DeGise) and Harrison. Please understand. Last night’s results don’t put the chairmanship out of Stack’s grasp. Jersey City could still deliver big – and very well might – and put him over the top. There’s also turnout to consider. But what happened in WNY in connection with the other towns put the June 12th chair’s contest at the edge. Amy DeGise lapped up the news in a statement:

Tonight, Democrats in West New York and Harrison delivered a strong statement the we will not allow our party to be taken over by the Stack machine and that we want progressive, inclusive leadership that puts everyone’s interests first, not just one city’s. I’m so excited about these tremendous victories and look forward to another win in one week when the Hudson County Democratic Organization votes for its next Chair. Congratulations to Congressman Sires, Mayor Fife and all of the great Democrats who made these victories possible.

Jeff Van Drew

Van Drew

Not to diminish Seth Grossman’s victory (see below). But state Senator Van Drew finds himself in a very strong position now as he faces a movement conservative attorney in the general election. The already conservative Van Drew – who received 16K votes last night compared to Grossman’s 10K – can run a wise-use-of-government campaign similar to Josh Gottheimer’s successful 2016 congressional campaign. That’s the blueprint, which South Jersey’s Van Drew has already been employing for years, which, one could argue, Gottheimer put to good use up north.

Julia Fahl

Julia Fahl

When signs blanket a town’s private lawns in the lead up to Election Day – as they did in Long Branch, in the name of John Pallone – it probably means that candidate is in a good position to win. That proved to be the case for Fahl, the spouse of U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman District Director Kari Osmond, who on Tuesday upended 28-year incumbent Dave DelVecchio to win the Democratic Primary for the mayoralty in Lambertville. In a larger sense, the Lambertville mayoral contest represented something more than Lambertville. Not to oversimplify it, but in a real sense Fahl rode the women’s movement against an entrenched male incumbent who had made missteps on his way to running out of room – and time.

Armstead and his ally Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis.

Derek Armstead

Targeted in the wake of a bruising county chairmanship battle earlier his year, the incumbent mayor of Linden beat the local machine by 1539 votes unofficially to retain the mayoralty in the Union County factory town. Additionally, Armstead’s running mate, Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis, defeated Council President Jorge Alvarez (3,537 to 2,253) for the city’s lone at-large council seat.

Gretchen HICKEY
35.65%
2,258
59.96%
3,797
Rhashonna C. COSBY
4.37%
277

WHO’S DOWN

Menendez

Bob Menendez

The incumbent U.S. Senator lost six counties (Salem, Cape May, Hunterdon, Somerset, Sussex, Warren, and almost Gloucester) and posted a 62-38% win against a candidate no one knew – who didn’t report spending any money – named Lisa McCormick. The early Bob Hugin ads in which he brands himself as an independent Republican receive solid marks from insiders in both parties. And he has unlimited resources to keep chopping away at Menendez, all through the summer. “He’s like a rat in a barrel,” a Menendez ally insisted. And he did beat Hugin’s totals by 91,000 votes. But it was not a good look for the senior senator who last year survived a political corruption trial, as media outlets last night begged the question, “What the hell happened to Bob Menendez?”

Steve Lonegan

Lonegan

The former Mayor of Bogota can add CD5 to his growing list of losses. Beaten last night by an unimpressive John McCann (15,924 – 53% to 14,152 – 47%) movement conservative Lonegan has now lost runs for governor, senator, a congressional seat in CD3, and now in the 5th. Maybe significantly, McCann hit Lonegan midway through the season with a confessional video from a former Bogota councilman who noted how the mayor had called him “a faggot.” Terrible loss for Lonegan, who appears to have run out of second chances.

Hirsh Singh, left, and Grossman.

Hirsh Singh 

It was set up for him to win, and the Linwood engineer lost. Singh had four lines in eight counties and promised to deliver significant cash reserves to the CD2 contest for Republicans, but he failed to deliver, as a scrambled field produced a movement conservative victory in the person of Seth Grossman. 518 of 523 precincts – 99 percent: x-Seth Grossman 10,084 – 39 percent; Hirsh Singh 7,836 – 30 percent; Sam Fiocchi 6,057 – 23 percent; Robert Turkavage 1,836 – 7 percent.

Candidates of Color 

Tony Ghee (CD11), Hirsh Singh (CD2), Tamara Harris (CD11), Tanzie Youngblood (CD2), Goutam Jois (CD7), and Peter Jacob (CD7) all lost primary bids to get to federal office.

Felix Roque

Never one to shy away from a scrap, the Mayor of West New York – a former U.S. Army Colonel aligned with Mayor Stack – came up short in his bid to wrest control of the county committee away from U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8). This hurts. Pawing at the turf to run next year against North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, Larry Wainstein was in West New York helping Roque in the days leading up to Election Day. Sacco won’t forget that in 2019, as he looks to protect himself locally but also seeks revenge on Roque behind the mayoral candidacy of Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo.

Norman Schmeltz

The Republican nominee for Bergen County executive barely won. To be clear, he won, but barely. Unofficially, according to the Bergen Record, he pulled out a nail-biter 10,371 to 10,185 win over Paul A. Duggan. Certainly it was conditioned in part by the CD5 Republican Primary, but that’s hardly a great result when you’re going up against Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco in the general. Schmeltz underperformed McCann by about 7%, and then underperformed his own freeholder running mates by about 4-5%. In fact he almost lost to a guy nobody knows. Without his home town of Bergenfield, he would have lost.

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