TrueNorth Election Recap

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Voters went to the polls in New Jersey, New York, and around the country yesterday and we have a full rundown for you. We can’t be sure, but we are pretty confident that you won’t read about the New Jersey Assembly races AND the Mississippi gubernatorial in the same article anywhere else.

New Jersey

New Jersey Republicans withstood a fierce onslaught from Democrats in an election contest for the 80 seats in the General Assembly and one seat in the Senate. The GOP held targeted Assembly seats and even unseated two Democratic incumbents. Several key municipal races also made headlines.

Senate Special Election – District 1

Cumberland County GOP Chairman Michael Testa won the 1st District Senate seat, defeating incumbent Bob Andrzejczak in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Van Drew who was elected to Congress last year. Testa appears to have won by seven points in the conservative district.

General Assembly

Assembly candidates Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan rode Testa’s coattails, unseating Democratic incumbents Bruce Land and Matthew Milam.

Democratic incumbents Vince Mazzeo and John Armato maintain a narrow lead in the neighboring 2nd – a split district with a Republican Senator – in a race that has not been called and may require several days before results are final.

Democrats did not flip Assembly seats in several districts they were targeting however they did hold onto seats in two competitive districts.

In Burlington’s 8th District, incumbent Assemblyman Ryan Peters won reelection. His running mate, former County Sheriff Jean Stanfield, was elected to an open seat. Owing to her popularity in the district, Stanfield was the top vote-getter. Stanfield and Peters defeated Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale despite the Democrats’ large cash advantage in the race.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Minority Whip Nancy Munoz held onto their 21st District seats in western Union County despite an intense and well-funded challenge from Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman. Democrats were hopeful to unseat the two members of Assembly GOP leadership but appear to have fallen short, although the challengers have not yet conceded.

Democrats had also targeted Morris County’s historically red 25th District. Assemblyman Tony Bucco won reelection despite no longer serving in the Assembly; he won a special election convention to fill the seat of his father who died in September. Remaining on the ballot for his Assembly seat, Bucco carried newcomer Brian Bergen across the finish line. Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger ran a spirited and aggressive campaign for seats that were not even considered vulnerable two years ago.

Wins in two competitive districts saved the night for Democrats, as incumbents Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling prevailed in Monmouth County’s 11th District and Assemblymen Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker won reelection in the 16th. The 16th had been heavily targeted by Republicans; popular Republican Kip Batemen represents the 16th in the State Senate and Jack Ciattarelli held one of the Assembly seats until he resigned to run for Governor in 2017.

Local Races

Municipal elections were held throughout New Jersey and we think the results of several are significant.

Hamilton is New Jersey’s 9th largest municipality, home to a large number of State employees, and always seems to be making political headlines. You can add one more headline to the list as Council President Jeff Martin has defeated 8-year incumbent Mayor Kelly Yaede, giving full control to Democrats. The election hopefully brings some sense of calm to Hamilton, which has been marked by a drama throughout the campaign and ongoing controversy surrounding Yaede and her campaign manager. We’re thrilled for Jeff and wish him the best as he moves up.

Bridgewater Council President Matt Moench was elected Mayor, besting Democrat Jeffrey Brookner with 60% of the vote. Moench received more total votes than any mayoral candidate in recent history. Moench defeated the incumbent Republican Mayor in the primary earlier this year, running off the line. He’s a friend and we wish him the best as he works to address some of the most pressing issues in this Somerset County municipality including development and transportation infrastructure improvements.

Councilman Mo Hill will be the next mayor of Toms River, county seat of Ocean County, after defeating Democrat Jonathan Petro. Republicans also swept the Toms River Council. With the win, Hill succeeds retiring Tom Kelaher and delivers a big win for freshman County Chairman Frank Holman.

New York City & State

In the suburban Long Island County of Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone won reelection, defeating County Comptroller John M. Kennedy, 55% to 43%. Bellone was seeking his third and final term under County term limits.

Staying on the Island but moving to Nassau County, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen is locked in a contest that remains too close to call although Republican Donald Clavin declared victory late in the evening. Gillen was elected two years ago, becoming the first Democratic Town Supervisor of Hempstead in over a century. If Gillen prevails, he would put Republicans back in control of Hempstead, the largest town in New York State and if incorporated as a city would be 18th largest in the country, behind Charlotte, North Carolina and ahead of Seattle, Washington.

In New York City, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was reelected to serve the remainder of his term through 2021. City Council Member Farah Louis, who replaced Williams in the City Council after winning her own special election, held onto her seat and will also serve through 2021.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz easily won her election as Queens District Attorney, becoming the first woman to hold the position. Katz was grateful for the easy win after narrowly prevailing in the Democratic Primary where she defeated AOC-endorsed Tiffany Caban in an election decided by recount.

The minuscule number of New York City voters who went to the polls on Tuesday also approved 19 different changes to City elections and governance, including ranked-choice voting and police accountability.

Around the Nation

There’s no other way to spin it, it was a rough night for Republicans, as Democrats scored significant wins in states that could be battlegrounds in the upcoming 2020 Presidental election.

Kentucky Governor – Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is the apparent winner in a State carried by President Trump by 30 points in 2016. The President held a rally in the State two days ago to try to swing the race to incumbent Governor Matt Bevin but it did not work, as historically Democratic but conservative leaning counties in eastern Kentucky coal country held for Beshear. Bevin has not yet conceded.

Virginia Legislature – Buoyed by especially high suburban turnout, Democrats took control of the State Legislature for the first time in over two decades. This is a stinging loss for Republicans who held a 66-34 majority in the Legislature prior to 2016 but have lost three straight elections. Democrats now control the House of Delegates, State Senate and Executive Mansion in a State that appears to be getting bluer with every election.

Mississippi Governor – Republicans held onto Mississippi in an open seat battle for Governor. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves defeated Democratic state Attorney General Jim Hood by over five points in a State won by President Trump by 18 points.