Unprecedented primaries are taking place in New Jersey on Tuesday, with most voters likely to post their ballot papers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The state’s voting system, which has expanded significantly in recent years, is undergoing extensive scrutiny after Governor Phil Murphy ordered all registered Democrats and Republicans to receive postal ballot papers and all unaffiliated voters receive applications for them. At least half of all polling stations in New Jersey are open to voters from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to cast preliminary ballots.
This is an element of uncertainty in a low-turnout election as the presidential primaries are no longer contested.
The primary one is to get some national attention because of the hotly contested race in Congress two southern New Jersey Swing districts. It will also be a test of whether what happened in New York last month when progressives were defeated or came Within striking distance of some well-anchored incumbents can be repeated across the Hudson River.
The primary school, originally planned for June 2, was postponed for more than a month due to the pandemic.
Here are five things you should see on Tuesday:
THE COMPETITION RACES
The two most closely watched area codes are held in the congressional districts of South Jersey.
In the 2nd district, which stretches west from the Jersey Shore to the Philadelphia suburbs, five Democrats are looking for the party’s nomination to challenge Republican Jeff Van Drew, who already has the support of President Donald Trump .
The leaders are political science professor Brigid Harrison and former teacher Amy Kennedy, a member of the most famous political dynasty of the Democrats. Harrison has support from six of the district’s eight democratic parties, but Kennedy, wife of former U.S. representative Patrick Kennedy (DR.I.), is supported by the local party in Atlantic County – the district’s most democratic county.
The race has become a proxy war between progressives, public sector unions and Murphy, who all support Kennedy, and the South Jersey democratic machine, led by energy broker George Norcross and Senate President Steve Sweeney, who supports Harrison. Also on the starting line are attorney and former congressional worker Will Cunningham, environmentalist John Francis III and former FBI agent Rob Turkavage.
In the neighboring 3rd district, There is a Fight between the more moderate Republicans of Burlington County and the more conservative Republicans of Ocean County for the opportunity to take on Democratic newcomer Andy Kim in November.
The Burlington Republicans support Kate Gibbs, a former county freeholder who, as a millennial suburban woman, hits a demographic sweet spot that the GOP bled in the Trump era.
Ocean County’s GOP has backed David Richter, a former contractor who grew up in the district but hasn’t lived there for decades. Richter initially announced his candidacy in District 2, but decided to run in District 3 instead after Van Drew switched parties.
While Judge wasn’t supported by Trump, the president’s deputy campaign manager, Bill Stepien – who was also a top advisor to former New Jersey governor Chris Christie – advises Richter, who received a lecture at Trump’s January rally in Wildwood.
Most of New Jersey’s 10 Democratic districts have supporters of former Democratic President Bernie Sanders against incumbents. Some of these insurgent candidates adopted Sanders’ slogan: “Not me. Us.”
Acting representatives Josh Gottheimer (5th district), Frank Pallone (6th district), Albio Sires (8th district), Bill Pascrell (9th district), Donald Payne (10th district) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (12th district) ) face primary challengers who identify with Sanders.
Chances are that Sanders supporters will upset each of the established operators. But if there’s a race to be seen, it’s in the 8th district of North Jersey, which is dominated by Hudson County. Sires, the 14-year-old incumbent, has turned negative against progressive challenger Hector Oseguera. Sires is usually running for re-election, so the fact that he has to work hard against a primary challenger shows that the district’s democratic establishment takes this challenge at least more seriously than the previous ones.
US Senator Cory Booker, who is popular in New Jersey, is due for his second full term this year. He meets Larry Hamm – a local activist who organized a peaceful protest against police brutality in May in Newark that attracted thousands – at the Democratic Elementary School.
Hamm is not expected to defeat Booker, who has deep organizational support across the state, but a stronger-than-expected result could be an indication of increasing progressive power within the New Jersey Democratic Party.
The Republican area code against Booker is more competitive. Rik Mehta, pharmacist and entrepreneur, is the leader with the support of most of the district’s GOP organizations. Hirsh Singh, an engineer who unsuccessfully applied for the GOP nomination for governor in 2017 and the seat of the 2nd district house in 2018, is supported by several republican organizations, including the powerful one in Ocean County. Natalie Lynn Rivera and Tricia Flanagan are also fighting for the nomination, but have no significant organizational support.
While the competition has grown nasty and Singh accuses Mehta of being a democratic plant and attacks Mehta Singh for “lies”, practically no one familiar with New Jersey politics believes that one of the candidates will frighten Booker.
New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.
County electoral officials at a hearing by the State Assembly committee last month warned that the state was completely unprepared for the expected amount of postal ballot papers and that the new nationwide New Jersey voter registration system launched in January had numerous technical problems and errors. There have also been reports of repeated system crashes.
A test run during about a dozen postal voting on May 12 uncovered some weaknesses in the system. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has charged four people – including an incumbent city council and an elected city council – with election fraud for handling postal ballot papers in Paterson.
Hiccups are inevitable as millions of postal ballot papers are in circulation. It remains to be seen whether the problems are small and contained or widespread. There will also likely be an unprecedented number of people who will personally vote in a preliminary vote.
Typically, a congressional election, where the presidential competition is fundamentally uncontested, would be a matter of low turnout. This may not be the case this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the state sends all registered Democrats and Republicans by post, voters don’t have to vote. The mail-in system can also be used to remind many voters that there is actually an elementary school. The unpredictability of voter turnout likely plays a role in why the Hudson County Democrats don’t take Sires risk and why Pascrell has recently touted the recommendations received from the best New Jersey Democrats.