Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding state legislative elections this year. Democratic and Republican voters in each state will be selecting nominees for these races on June 8.
In New Jersey, all 120 state legislative seats are up for election: 80 in the General Assembly and 40 in the state Senate.
Ninety percent of incumbents, or 108 legislators, are running for re-election, down from 2019 when 95% of incumbents ran for re-election.
A majority of incumbents running for re-election in 2021, 85 legislators, will not face a primary and will advance directly to the general election. The remaining 23—nine Democrats and 14 Republicans—face contested primaries. This is the lowest share of incumbents facing contested primaries in New Jersey since 2015.
Former Assm. Joe Howarth (R), who lost a primary in 2019, is the only state legislative incumbent to lose a primary in New Jersey since 2011.
Democrats have held majorities in both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature since 2003 and currently hold a Democratic trifecta alongside incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who is also running for re-election in 2021.
In Virginia, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election.
Ninety-four percent of incumbents filed to run for re-election to the House in 2021, more than 2019 (84%) and 2017 (93%). Of the six incumbents not seeking re-election, one is a Democrat and five are Republicans.
Not all state legislative nominees in Virginia are chosen through a primary. District Democratic and Republican parties may choose to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary to pick their candidates. In 2021, at least 22 state legislative district parties—five Democratic and 17 Republican—chose conventions as their selection method.
In 2019, one House incumbent—Del. Robert Thomas Jr. (R)—lost in a primary election. Thomas’ defeat was the first for a House incumbent in Virginia since 2015 when Mark Berg (R) and Johnny Joannau (D) lost in their respective primaries.
This is the first state legislative election cycle in Virginia since Democrats won a majority in the House of Delegates. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994. The chart below shows the change in partisan control of the House of Delegates since 2011.
To learn more about these state legislative elections, use the links below: