2016 Election Coverage

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

New Jerseyans took to the polls on election day, casting votes for President, Congress, and various state and local offices. Voters also weighed in on two ballot questions that would potentially have far-reaching impacts on New Jersey’s economy. Read on for an overview of these races, along with our insight and analysis.

Presidential Election

Hillary Clinton carried New Jersey on election night by a margin of 55%-42% and won the national popular vote, but lost the electoral vote, making Donald Trump the winner and President-elect. Trump’s election may impact the future of Governor Chris Christie, who was one of Trump’s first mainstream Republican supporters and the first former presidential candidate to back him. Following that endorsement Trump named Christie to lead his transition team should he win and Christie’s name was floated for possible cabinet positions. However Christie’s visibility on the campaign trail waned in recent months and raised questions whether he would play a role in a possible Trump administration. Should Christie vacate the office of Governor for a position with the newly forming administration prior to the end of his term in 2017, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno – who is exploring her own run for Governor in 2017 – would assume the office in an acting capacity and have the benefit of incumbency going into next year’s election.

New Jersey Congressional Elections

All twelve members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation were on the ballot on Tuesday. All incumbents were seeking reelection and eleven of them succeeded by comfortable margins. The lone exception is New Jersey’s 5th District where Democrat Josh Gottheimer has defeated longtime Republican incumbent Congressman Scott Garrett according to the Associated Press. Garrett, a social conservative first elected in 2002, has frequently been targeted but until this year had been able to out-fund his opponents and easily win re-election in this Republican-leaning district. But Garrett’s fundraising dried up after he allegedly told fellow Republicans he would not support the National Republican Congressional Committee because it backed gay candidates. Gottheimer, a 41-year-old former Microsoft executive and former Bill Clinton speechwriter, ran as a fiscal conservative and capitalized on Garrett’s fundraising woes, ultimately out-raising him 2-1. Gottheimer’s win means Democrats will hold seven of the state’s 12 seats.

Special Legislative Elections

Three Democratic state lawmakers, appointed this past year to fill vacant seats, won re-election on Tuesday. In the 18th District, Democratic Senator Patrick Diegnan – a former assemblyman – won 61% of the vote and defeated Republican Roger Daley, a former Superior Court judge. In the same district, Democratic Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, a former Edison councilman, netted 60% of the vote, beating Republican Camille Ferraro Clark, an East Brunswick councilwoman. And in the 29th District, Democratic Assemblywoman Blonnie Watson, a former Essex County freeholder, beat Republican Ronda Marrison with 87% of the vote.

Ballot Question #1 – Amend Constitution to Expand Gaming

With 78% of New Jersey voters rejecting a proposal to expand casino gambling to the northern part of the State, Atlantic City will keep its four-decade monopoly on gaming in New Jersey. The referendum asked voters to amend the State constitution to allow two casinos to be built at least 72 miles north of Atlantic City. The measure sparked intense feelings on both sides, with supporters arguing that the plan would generate millions in tax revenue and thousands of jobs to New Jersey. Opponents argued that it would force the closure of even more casinos in a city that is already financially crippled and faces the possibility of state takeover to prevent bankruptcy.

Ballot Question #2 – Amend Constitution to Dedicate Gas Tax Revenues

New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment that will dedicate gas tax revenue to transportation projects. With 90% of precincts reporting, the measure passed with 53.5% of the vote, according to the Associated Press. The Legislature voted almost unanimously in January to place the question on the November ballot, and the question was also endorsed by Governor Christie even as he sparred with Democratic leaders of the legislature about the gas tax increase (a 23-cent gas tax increase was ultimately approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Christie last month). Voter approval of the previously non-controversial ballot measure was complicated in recent weeks as Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno joined conservative radio host Bill Spadea in denouncing it. Guadagno argued that voters could undo the increase by voting against the ballot measure. While rejection of the ballot question would have done nothing to roll back the gas tax increase, it would have left the new revenue stream vulnerable to being raided by the legislature. In the end however, voters supported “fire-walling” revenues to make sure they are used to support transportation infrastructure.

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