2012 elections preview: New Jersey voters to select winners in congressional primaries

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June 4, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional team

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday for congressional and state legislative primaries, with six states holding primaries -- the most of any Tuesday in the 2012 election season. Here's what to expect in New Jersey, the only state with just congressional primaries tomorrow. New Jersey's state legislative seats were elected in 2011.

Polls will be open tomorrow from 6am-8pm EST.

Contested Primaries in New Jersey -- June 5, 2012
U.S. House
(12 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 6 (50%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 6 (50%)

U.S. Senate

United States Senate elections in New Jersey, 2012

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez is unopposed in the primary. Republican voters, on the other hand, have the choice of four candidates: state Senator Joe Kyrillos, Bader Qarmout, Joe Rullo, and David Douglas Brown. Of the Republicans, Kyrillos is the most well-known, but even so, he is familiar to less than one third of New Jerseyans.[1]

Longtime legislator Kyrillos is considered the frontrunner, with a healthy $1.4 million in campaign funds. But Bader Qarmout, Joe Rullo, and David Douglas Brown have support from Tea Party groups and certain Republican leaders.[1] The three newcomers consider their lack of political experience to be an advantage, with many voters frustrated with party deadlock. Kyrillos, on the other hand, has commented, "I wonder sometimes how people can just jump into a race of this magnitude."[1]

U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in New Jersey, 2012

Following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, New Jersey lost a U.S. House seat, bringing its total number of representatives down to 12 in 2012. The Democrats have primaries in six of the districts, as do the Republicans. Only one district, the 10th, is open, meaning the incumbent is not running.

Thus far, 61.58% of possible primaries nationwide have been contested. New Jersey's contested figure of 50.00% (12 of 24 possible party primaries) is less competitive than the national average.

Unopposed Democratic incumbents are Frank Pallone in the 6th District and Rush D. Holt, Jr. in the 12th District.

Two Republican incumbents are also unopposed: Jon Runyan in the 3rd District and Rodney Frelinghuysen in the 11th District.

New Jersey is host to two very competitive primary races in the 9th and 10th Districts. With the 10th District left vacant by the death of Rep. Donald Payne, five Democrats -- including Payne's son -- are vying for the party nod heading into the general election. While Donald Payne Jr. has the Democratic establishment's support,[2] his fellow Newark city councilman Ronald C. Rice and state Senator Nia Gill are gathering widespread support and calling for a new legacy.[3]

In the high-octane 9th District, two Democratic incumbents, Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, are duking it out after Rothman's district was eliminated in the 2012 redistricting.[4] While the representatives' voting records are nearly identical, the race has gotten intense and sometimes personal.[5] The Pascrell-Rothman primary has been called one of the five ugliest member vs. member battles.[6]

Members of the U.S. House from New Jersey -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 7 6
     Republican Party 6 6
Total 13 12

See also