New Jersey Democrats Likely to Retain Legislative Majority After Close Races | ET REALITY


New Jersey Democrats appeared likely to maintain a comfortable majority in the Assembly and Senate, according to early results from The Associated Press in Tuesday’s elections.

“It was a great night,” said Nick Scutari, Democratic Senate president. “We had good candidates. That’s why I felt confident going into this week.”

Two years ago, with the state’s Democratic governor, Philip D. Murphy, at the top of the ticket, Republicans gained seven seats in the Legislature. Voters angry over government mandates against Covid-19 flocked to the polls, a turnout that many losing Democrats called a “red wave.” Murphy became New Jersey’s first Democratic governor re-elected in 44 years, but won by just three points.

On Tuesday, all 120 seats in the Democratic-led state Legislature were back on the ballot, with Republicans hoping to make more gains.

But by 11:30 p.m., Democrats had managed to win competitive districts in southern and central New Jersey and were leading in other key races.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Democrats had a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 advantage in the Assembly; It has been two decades since Republicans had a majority in either chamber.

Two years ago, the most spectacular defeat for Democrats came in South Jersey, where Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democratic union leader who at the time was president of the Senate, lost his seat to Edward Durr Jr., a candidate conservative who ran on a limited budget.

Durr, a furniture store driver who adopted the nickname Ed the Trucker, lost to the Democratic candidate, John J. Burzichelli, by six percentage points. Burzichelli represented the district in the Assembly for 20 years before losing in 2021.

The odds of Republicans overtaking Democrats in the House of Representatives were always high.

“We’re pretty close to the mark,” New Jersey Republican Party spokeswoman Alexandra Wilkes said last week of winning a majority in either chamber, “but we have to hit the mark every time.”

In Monmouth County, a largely conservative area on the Jersey Shore, three Republican incumbents lost seats, according to AP results.

Shaun Golden, chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Committee, acknowledged that the candidates “had fallen short.”

“Our legislative results are, to put it bluntly, mixed,” he said in a statement.

Much of the campaign’s rhetoric revolved around cultural issues, including abortion rights and whether schools should be required to inform parents about how students express their gender. Republicans have also used state policies aimed at making residents less dependent on gas-powered stoves and vehicles to energize their base.

On Tuesday night, Senator Andrew Zwicker, a Democrat who was first elected in the 16th District, near Princeton, New Jersey, by fewer than 100 votes, was still knocking on doors after sunset in South Brunswick, with the hope to persuade residents to vote. During the campaign, he came under attack for legislation he introduced opposing book bans in schools and supporting transgender youth.

Zwicker, a scientist who works at Princeton University’s plasma physics laboratory, said he was hopeful that district residents would “realize that.”

Apparently they did. He defeated his Republican opponent, Mike Pappas, a former congressman, by about 12 percentage points.

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