Now that the deadline has passed, assuming there aren’t any late-night mail collections, the waiting begins. Don’t expect a full slate of results for about a week in the Garden State, which doesn’t traditionally rush this part of the process.
But there are a couple of things we do know: Turncoat Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who flipped New Jersey’s 2nd District from red to blue in 2018, then flipped it back, of his own accord, in 2019, will face a Kennedy in November.
A concession in New Jersey’s 2nd
Brigid Callahan Harrison, a Montclair State University political science professor, conceded the Democratic race in New Jersey’s 2nd District to Amy Kennedy, a mental health advocate, educator and wife of former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, on Tuesday night.
Multiple counties in New Jersey are still counting the results of the election, which will count all mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by July 14.
Callahan Harrison’s concession came less than two hours after the polls closed. At the time of her concession, Kennedy led the race with roughly 55% of the vote to Callahan Harrison’s 32%.
“I want to congratulate Amy and the Kennedy family for winning the Democratic primary and becoming our nominee for the 2nd District of New jersey,” Callahan Harrison said in a video posted online. “As we all know, this was a tough, hard-fought race, but we all know — let me be clear — that is now behind us.”
Democrats are, unsurprisingly, primed to unseat Van Drew, who broke from the party last year after voting against impeachment. His defection came with a promise of “undying support” to President Donald Trump.
“As I have stated many times over the last few months, there is far more that unifies us than divides us and we will not beat Jeff Van Drew unless we remain unified and focused on November,” Callahan Harrison added. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure that Amy Kennedy defeats Jeff Van Drew in November.”
Kennedy’s win is also a triumph for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who endorsed her two weeks ago over Callahan Harrison, the choice of state political powerbroker George Norcross and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Harrison also had the backing of US Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez.
What Kennedy had, in addition to the support of the governor, was a $500,000 donation to her own cause and a last name that Democrats tend to vote for when it’s on a ballot.
They’ll be rushing to do it again in November, when Van Drew — who clinched the GOP nomination on Tuesday — tries for a second term, this time as a Republican from the start.
The waiting game
With limited in-person voting in New Jersey, the jury is still out in a number of the most closely followed races there. Like other states that upended their voting processes during the coronavirus pandemic, election officials in New Jersey have never seen — or been asked to count — this volume of mail-in ballots before.
But the early indications suggest that, despite a loss for the South Jersey machine in the 2nd District, this primary won’t shake up the Democratic Party in the way New York’s did.
In the 5th District, Rep. Josh Gottheimer has raced out to a commanding lead over progressive Arati Kreibich, the neuroscientist endorsed by Indivisible and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Gottheimer, who flipped the seat in 2016 on the same night Trump was elected, will likely turn his focus now to Frank Pallotta, the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Pallotta kicked off his campaign more than a year ago by casting Gottheimer, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, as an ally of “the radical left” — a charge similar to the one Trump has recently leveled at Biden, and one that will have progressives on Capitol Hill scratching their heads.
Democrats in the neighboring 8th District also appear poised to renominate a longtime incumbent. Rep. Albio Sires leads challenger Hector Oseguera by a big early margin in the deep blue district.
Few competitors, no problems for Biden
The early returns suggest that Democrats aren’t having any second thoughts about their choice.
Biden’s take of the vote is up above 85% in New Jersey, where Sen. Bernie Sanders was also on the ballot, and 90% in Delaware, where Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were both on the menu.
Joe and Jill Biden voted absentee, a campaign official told CNN on Monday, “following Delaware’s rule accommodating voting during Covid-19.” They turned in their ballots in person to the New Castle County board of elections last week.