Heller: Who’s who in New Jersey’s close senate and congressional races

Glassboro municipal positions have all been filed by the Democratic Party. -Photo / pixabay.com

In what’s been considered one of the most crucial midterms in recent memory, New Jersey is poised to be a battleground state for some of the most hotly contested races this November.

For almost 40 years, New Jersey has been a Democratic stronghold in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and has consistently been a blue state in presidential elections since 1992. Just last November, New Jersey elected Phil Murphy, a Democrat, as governor, effectively squashing any hopes Republicans had in a solid blue state.  

However, 2018 may prove to be an outlier for both parties in New Jersey as Democrats and Republicans in both houses are facing troubled incumbents and promising nominees.

In New Jersey’s third congressional district, the race between Republican U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur and Democrat Andy Kim is one of the major national races in which Democrats hope to take control.

The district is made up of the eastern part of Ocean County, where its large population is strongly conservative, and the western part of Burlington County, with a relatively small population of liberals that have rarely voted in elections.

Kim, a former national security adviser in the Obama administration, hopes to tap into the liberal base of the district to secure enough votes to swing in his favor. That may not be enough to convince moderates in Ocean County to vote for him, due to MacArthur being re-elected by wide margins in 2016.

However, Democrats may have a chance this time around. After voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and voting on President Trump’s tax cuts, MacArthur effectively made himself the only New Jersey House Representative to align with the Trump administration’s agenda – an agenda that has caused many people, including some of his supporters, to be extremely disappointed in the congressman.

New Jersey’s Senate race is also geared up to be incredibly close as well. Long-time Senator Bob Menendez is set to defend his Senate seat from Republican nominee and pharmaceutical businessman, Bob Hugin.

For 12 years, Menendez has enjoyed a relatively obscure career in the Senate and could’ve been an elder statesman both within the Senate and in the Democratic Party. Nonetheless, in 2015, Menendez faced allegations of giving political favors to a Florida eye doctor in exchange for personal gifts.

Although he was acquitted by federal prosecutors earlier this year, his reputation was severely tarnished and thus gave Republicans an edge that could garner Hugin a seat in the Senate in a solid blue state… a seat, mind you, Republicans haven’t held in New Jersey since the early ’80s.

Regardless, both parties are expected to go all in to both defend and take certain seats in certain houses, but a question still remains: which seats are the parties willing to sacrifice and take in order to gain control?

Whoever the winners and losers are, each race is likely to be extremely close and extremely exciting.


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