Midterm Election Special Edition

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

In one of the most anticipated midterm elections in decades and a race that was widely interpreted as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s tumultuous first two years in office, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives. Republicans retained control of the United States Senate and expanded their majority. Democrats also made gains at the State level, capturing seven governorships. A number of key races in New Jersey and New York gave Democrats the gains they needed to regain control of the House for the first time since 2011.

Key Takeaways

New Jersey and New York grew decidedly bluer. Vulnerable Republican incumbents in both states lost, contributing to Democrats’ takeover of the House. Flipping the House has significant ramifications for our region, as local Democrats are poised to assume the chairmanship of several key committees. Monmouth County Democrat Frank Pallone will take the gavel of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over key policy issues including health care, energy, and data security and privacy. Manhattan Democrat Jerry Nadler will take the helm of the House Judiciary Committee and may contemplate impeachment hearings against President Trump.

New Jersey Congressional

The 2018 midterm election was the most expensive congressional election cycle in New Jersey’s history, tallying $127 million as of election day. New Jersey Democrats flipped three House seats (with another Republican holding onto a thin lead in a race too close to call) and helped deliver control of the House to Democrats.

Senate – Bob Menendez v. Bob Hugin: Outspent 3-1 and hampered by scandal, Bob Menendez showed his mettle and was reelected. Former Celgene executive Bob Hugin spent $36 million of his own money but faced an uphill battle in a State that hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since Watergate. Menendez benefitted from large statewide voter turnout and a strong anti-Trump sentiment in a race that was called less than an hour after polls closed. The race was one of the nastiest in recent memory with both sides spending much of their time attacking the other. Hugin’s decision to double-down on negative attacks – punctuated by an especially shocking ad in the final weeks – seemed to stall his momentum and put wind in Menendez’s sails. The Senator returns to Washington for a third term.

CD1 – Donald Norcross v. Paul Dilks: In a race called just minutes after polls closed, incumbent Donald Norcross won a third term in Congress.

CD2 – Jeff Van Drew v. Seth Grossman: State Senator Jeff Van Drew wins the contest to replace retiring Frank LoBiondo. Grossman was denounced by national Republicans and New Jersey’s GOP Chair for his “racist and bigoted speech.” Van Drew’s win flips this seat from red to blue.

CD3 – Andy Kim v. Tom MacArthur: With 99% of precincts reporting, this one is still too close to call. Two-term incumbent MacArthur won reelection in 2016 by 20 percentage points but faced backlash this year for aligning himself with President Trump.

CD4 – Josh Welle v. Chris Smith: The Dean of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation won reelection to another term. Chris Smith, first elected in 1981, defeated Democratic challenger Josh Welle and was the only New Jersey Republican to win a Congressional seat on Tuesday night.

CD5 – Josh Gottheimer v. John McCann: In his first attempt at reelection, centrist Josh Gottheimer defeated John McCann with 55% of the vote, with 99% of precincts reporting.

CD6 – Frank Pallone v. Rich Pezzullo: Democrat Pallone won handily and will serve his 11th term as Chair of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee.

CD7 – Tom Malinowski v. Leonard Lance: Challenger Malinowski defeated Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in another contest that helped Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. The GOP held this suburban seat since 1981 but was overwhelmed by anti-Trump fervor.

CD8 – Albio Sires v. John Muniz: Sires wins reelection to his 8th term and may find himself with a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee chairmanship.

CD9 – Bill Pascrell v. Eric Fisher: The feisty Pascrell won another term and will be one of incoming Chairman Richard Neal’s top lieutenants on the powerful House Ways & Means Committee.

CD10 – Donald Payne v. Agha Khan: The incumbent Congressman will return to Washington for a fifth term after winning reelection to the seat once held by his father.

CD11 – Mikie Sherrill v. Jay Webber: In a seat targeted by national Democrats, Mikie Sherrill won the open seat race to replace retiring Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. In defeating conservative Assemblyman Jay Webber, Sherrill helps deliver the House to Democrats and is likely to have a national profile.

CD12 – Bonnie Watson Colemen v. Daryl Kipnis: The incumbent Watson Coleman has won a third term, defeating attorney Kipnis.

New Jersey State & Down Ballot

Several special elections were held to fill vacancies in New Jersey’s legislature. Vacated seats are filled by appointment by County committees until elections can be held; placeholders all ran for election.

District 36 Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese was elected to serve the remainder of Marlene Caride’s term; Caride vacated the Bergen County seat earlier this year to join Phil Murphy’s cabinet as Commissioner of the Department of Banking & Insurance.

In Camden County, District 5 Assemblyman William Spearman won his special election to serve the remainder of the term of Arthur Barclay, who resigned.

In Bergen County’s 38th District, Democrats completed a sweep with Senator Joe Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Chris Tully winning election to seats they were appointed to earlier this year.

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson and Assemblyman Tony Verrelli won their races and will serve the remaining year of their terms representing Mercer County in the Assembly. Reynolds Jackson was appointed to the seat vacated by current State Treasurer Liz Muoio; Verrelli took Reed Gusciora’s seat when the latter was elected Mayor of Trenton.

Finally, Essex County Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake was elected to fill out the remainder of current LG Sheila Oliver’s term.

New York State & Congressional

New York State woke up on Wednesday a deep blue State.  Democratic House candidates unseated at least two Republicans; two additional House races are too close to call.  The results helped Dems capture control of the House and give Governor Andrew Cuomo – who cruised to victory and a third term – a stronger and broader platform to oppose President Trump and potentially launch his own 2020 bid for President.  The blue wave extended to the New York State Senate, where Democrats captured their largest majority in over a century and solidified one party control of Albany.

Senate – Kirsten Gillibrand was reelected overwhelmingly to a second term in a race that was never close.  Gillibrand, rumored to be mulling a presidential run in 2020, ruled it out during a pre-election debate against her opponent, stating unequivocally “I will serve my six-year term.”

CD11 – Max Rose v. Dan Donovan:  In New York’s upset of the night, Staten Island incumbent Dan Donovan lost his bid for reelection to combat veteran Max Rose.  Donovan was the only Republican in New York City’s Congressional delegation which is now solid Blue.

CD19 – Antonio Delgado v. John Faso:  Hudson Valley Republican Faso lost a close race to Rhodes Scholar Delgado by 5,600 votes.

CD22 – Anthony Brindisi v. Claudia Tenney:  First term incumbent Tenney trails her Democrat challenger by 1,422 votes in a race that has not been called.  Tenney, who aligned closely with President Trump, was a target for national and New York Democrats.

CD27 – Nate McMurray v. Chris Collins:  Normally this would be a cake walk for Collins in this deep red Western New York district; Trump won it by 25 percentage points.  But Collins has been indicted for insider trading which made it gettable for Democrats.  Collins holds a lead of 2,808 votes in a race that has not been called.