New Jersey's 2021 Election
New Jersey’s 2021 election is sure to go down in history as one of the most memorable - and unexpected - in history. First, Governor Phil Murphy defied recent history by becoming the first Democratic governor to be re-elected since Brendan Byrne in 1977. Second, Murphy’s Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli’s strong showing defied numerous polls showing him down by between 8 and 11 points one week before Election Day. Ciattarelli ultimately lost the election 51%-48% but strong Republican voter turnout across the State - and in Monmouth and Ocean counties in particular - made the race much closer. Third, that Republican turnout led to GOP pick-ups in the Legislature including in Gloucester County’s District 3 where Edward Durr upset Senate President Steve Sweeney, the longest tenured legislative leader in New Jersey history.
Murphy had to wait ten days to receive a concession call from Ciattarelli, as the Republican was hopeful that the counting of remaining ballots might close the margin with Murphy and justify the request for a recount. Ultimately, Murphy’s lead grew to roughly 82,000 votes. Murphy will be sworn into a second term in January and is term-limited. Ciattarelli did not waste time announcing his intention to run again in four years, doing so in response to a reporter’s question following his concession speech.
Strong Republican turnout across New Jersey benefitted Republican candidates for Senate and allowed the GOP to narrow the Democratic majority by one. Sweeney’s shocking loss to a vastly outspent challenger led to a leadership battle for Senate President (read more below). Sweeney’s loss also suggests that some historically blue portions of South Jersey counties are becoming more red. In Burlington County’s 8th District, GOP Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield ousted Republican-turned-Democrat incumbent Dawn Addiego. Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker defeated former Congressman Mike Pappas for the 16th District open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Kip Bateman. In the 2nd District, Republicans held onto a key Senate seat as Vince Polistina defeated Democrat Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo in a contest to replace Chris Brown who resigned in July to take a position in the Murphy Administration. Democrats will hold a 24-16 majority when the new Legislature convenes in January.
Republicans fared well in Assembly contests, knocking off five Democrat incumbents on their way to a net gain of six seats. Two of those pick-ups came in District 3 where Sweeney’s running mates, incumbents John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro, also went down. Vince Polistina’s win gave his Assembly running mates coattails as they knocked off both Democrats including incumbent Assemblyman John Armato. The 8th District saw Republicans hold its two Assembly seats including the one vacated by Jean Stanfield when she defeated Dawn Addiego. And in Monmouth County’s 11th District, seemingly always a battleground, incumbent Senator Vin Gopal’s win was not enough to save his two Assembly running mates, incumbents Joann Downy and Eric Houghtaling, who lost. Democrats in the 16th District held on, preventing further Republican Assembly pick-ups. Incumbent Roy Freiman was narrowly re-elected; his running mate Sadaf Jaffer also won, keeping Andrew Zwicker’s vacated Assembly seat in Democrats hands. When the General Assembly re-organizes in January, Democrats will have a 46-34 majority, its smallest in nearly twenty years.
Legislative Leadership Turnover
The Republican and Democratic caucuses of the State Senate and General Assembly met following the November 2 election to select new leadership. Only Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin will return to his position in January. Steve Sweeney’s shocking loss set up an open seat battle for Senate President and Union County Senator Nick Scutari corralled the necessary support from fellow senators to be elected. Tom Kean’s retirement from the State Senate means that Republicans will have a new leader for the first time since 2008. Respected Sussex County Republican Steve Oroho has been elected and will serve as Senate Minority Leader in 2022. Craig Coughlin was elected by his caucus to a third term as Assembly Speaker and will become the longest serving Speaker in the history of the New Jersey Legislature when he completes his third two-year term in 2025. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s election to Tom Kean’s Senate seat opens that leadership position. Assemblyman John DiMaio narrowly defeated Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and will become the new Minority Leader.
Biden Signs $1.2T Infrastructure Bill
President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill into law this week. The bill, which received bi-partisan support in Congress, adds $550 billion to existing transportation spending and represents an historic level of infrastructure investment that will create millions of jobs and a staggering level of economic output.
New Jersey will receive over $12 billion in transportation and transit funding over the next five years and another billion in investment in energy, water and broadband infrastructure. New Jersey’s funding allocation includes $6.9 billion for highways; $1.1 billion for bridges; $4.2 billion for transit; and $272 million for airports. It also paves the way for a massive infusion of funding for the Gateway Program which includes construction of two new passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson River.
Every Member of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation voted in support of this historic infrastructure package, including Republicans Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew.
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Anthony Ernest Fiordaliso was born 1:24am on Monday November 1, 2021 at home with help from his Dad and Mom. He measured 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches. Everyone at home is happy and healthy.
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