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Stories about New Jersey

New Jersey will vote on a constitutional amendment to postpone legislative redistricting if census data isn’t received by February 15

At the election on November 3, New Jersey voters will decide a constitutional amendment to postpone state legislative redistricting until after the 2021 election if federal census data isn’t received by February 15, 2021. Therefore, the current state legislative districts, which have been used since 2011, would remain in use for the 2021 election. New districts would be used beginning in 2023. The constitutional amendment would also use this delayed timeline in future redistricting cycles if census data isn’t received by February 15 of the year after the census (2031, 2041, 2051, and so on).

Both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature passed the constitutional amendment on July 30, 2020. A 60% vote was required in both legislative chambers. In the General Assembly, the vote was 51 to 26. In the State Senate, the vote was 25 to 15. Legislative Democrats, along with one Senate Republican, supported the amendment. All other legislative Republicans opposed it.

Asm. John McKeon (D-27), a legislative sponsor of the amendment, said that because the coronavirus pandemic has had the effect of delaying the completion of the federal census, “there’s just not a lot of good options here.” Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau has delayed the expected delivery of redistricting data to states to July 31, 2021. The state’s primary elections are scheduled for June 8, 2021. Senate Majority Whip Nicholas Scutari (D-22) stated, “[A delay in receiving census data] will make it all but impossible to get the accurate information needed to draw legislative districts that are fair and accurate. An undercount will not only result in reduced federal funding, but also will have a negative impact on fair representation in the Legislature.”

Doug Steinhardt, chairperson of the New Jersey Republican Party, said his party was opposed to the constitutional amendment. He stated, “The people of New Jersey deserve legislators that reflect the political and demographic makeup of our great state, and they haven’t enjoyed that in at least a decade. Democrats pushing this amendment to delay redistricting are trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer, and are aiming to extend their majority for an additional two years.”

In New Jersey, a redistricting commission is responsible for developing state legislative district maps. The party affiliation of the commission’s 10 members is based on the results of the last gubernatorial election. The state political party committees of the gubernatorial candidates who placed first and second get to each select five members. Typically, these are Democrats and Republicans. If they deadlock on a state legislative redistricting map, the state Supreme Court Chief Justice appoints an 11th member.

The constitutional amendment is the third to be referred to the 2020 general election ballot in New Jersey. Voters will also decide a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana and a constitutional amendment to make veterans eligible to receive the state’s veterans’ property tax deduction.

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Richter defeats Gibbs to win the Republican primary in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District

David Richter defeated Kate Gibbs to win the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time on July 7, Richter had received 67% of the vote to Gibbs’ 33% with 53% of precincts reporting.

Richter, the former chief executive officer of Hill International, had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and state Senate Deputy Minority Leader Robert Singer (R). Gibbs, a former Burlington County freeholder, had the support of the Republican Main Street Partnership and state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R).

Richter will face incumbent Andy Kim (D), who was first elected in 2018, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Kim and a third says it is a toss-up.


New Jersey holds primary July 7, election results pending

The statewide primary for New Jersey was held on July 7, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3. The primary was originally scheduled for June 2, but was postponed due to concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mail-in voting was also expanded due to Covid-19. All registered, active Democratic and Republican voters were automatically set to receive mail-in ballots and any unaffiliated or inactive voters were automatically set to receive mail-in ballot applications. If ballots are postmarked by July 7 and received by July 14, boards of elections will count them, meaning election results may not be known for at least a week following the primary.

Candidates ran in primaries for one U.S. Senate seat and 12 U.S. House seats.

  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Cory Booker advanced from the Democratic primary after facing Lawrence Hamm. As of July 8, the Republican primary had not been called.
  • U.S. House District 1: Incumbent Donald Norcross (D) and Claire Gustafson (R) faced no opposition in their primaries and advanced automatically.
  • U.S. House District 2: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Jeff Van Drew defeated Bob Patterson in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, Amy Kennedy defeated four other candidates, according to unofficial results.
  • U.S. House District 3: Incumbent Andrew Kim was unopposed in the Democratic primary and advanced automatically. In the Republican primary, David Richter defeated Kate Gibbs, according to unofficial results.
  • U.S. House District 4: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Chris Smith defeated Alter Eliezer Richter in the Republican primary. As of July 8, the Democratic primary had not been called.
  • U.S. House District 5: As of July 8, neither the Democratic nor Republican primary had been called.
  • U.S. House District 6: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Frank Pallone defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary. No Republican candidates appeared on the ballot.
  • U.S. House District 7: Incumbent Tom Malinowski was unopposed in the Democratic primary and advanced automatically. In the Republican primary, Thomas Kean Jr. defeated two other candidates, according to unofficial results.
  • U.S. House District 8: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Albio Sires defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary. Jason Mushnick was unopposed in the Republican primary and advanced automatically.
  • U.S. House District 9: As of July 8, neither the Democratic nor Republican primary had been called.
  • U.S. House District 10: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Donald Payne Jr. defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary. Jennifer Zinone was unopposed in the Republican primary and advanced automatically.
  • U.S. House District 11: Incumbent Mikie Sherrill (D) and Rosemary Becchi (R) faced no opposition in their primaries and advanced automatically.
  • U.S. House District 12: Unofficial results indicate incumbent Bonnie Watson Coleman defeated Lisa McCormick in the Democratic primary. Mark Razzoli was unopposed in the Republican primary and advanced automatically.
Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:
  • Essex County (10 seats)
  • Hudson County (9 seats)

Entering the 2020 election, New Jersey has two Democratic U.S. Senators and 10 Democratic and two Republican U.S. Representatives. The U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Thirty-three out of 100 Senate seats are up for regular election and two seats are up for special election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

New Jersey’s primary was the 30th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on July 14 in Maine.

Additional reading:


Van Drew defeats Patterson to win renomination in New Jersey’s 2nd District

Incumbent Jeff Van Drew defeated challenger Bob Patterson to win the Republican primary in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:45 p.m. Eastern Time on July 7, Van Drew had received 81% of the vote to Patterson’s 18% with 36% of precincts reporting.

Van Drew was first elected to the district as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the Republican Party in December 2019. Van Drew said he would work with President Trump and that Trump had endorsed him, while Patterson said Van Drew had not supported President Trump’s agenda during his first term in office. Van Drew will face Amy Kennedy, the winner of the Democratic primary, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Van Drew and a third says it tilts towards him.



Kennedy wins Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District

Amy Kennedy defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Kennedy had received 55% of the vote to Harrison’s 32%.

Local political observers described the race as part of a larger battle among state Democrats. Harrison’s supporters included Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and six of the district’s eight county Democratic parties. Kennedy had support from Gov. Phil Murphy and the Atlantic County Democratic Party, which is the district’s largest. Kennedy will face incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R), who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the GOP the following year.



New Jersey to hold primary election on July 7

The statewide primary election for New Jersey is on July 7, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on March 30, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices:

• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (12 seats)
• State Senate District 25 (special election)
• State House District 25 (special election)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Essex County
• Hudson County

New Jersey’s primary election was postponed from June 2 to July 7 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

New Jersey’s primary is the 30th to take place in the 2020 election. The next primary is on July 14 in Maine.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_election_in_New_Jersey,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections_in_New_Jersey,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/New_Jersey_state_legislative_special_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_municipal_elections,_2020#New_Jersey



Murphy nominates Pierre-Louis to New Jersey Supreme Court

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) nominated attorney Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the New Jersey Supreme Court on June 5, in anticipation of the retirement of Justice Walter Timpone. Timpone will be required to step down from the court when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 years old this November.

Under New Jersey law, state court judges are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. If confirmed, Pierre-Louis would become the first Black female justice to join the court. She would also be the first Black justice to sit on the supreme court bench since John E. Wallace, Jr., for whom Pierre-Louis clerked after law school, left the court in 2010.

Founded in 1776, the New Jersey Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. Of the seven justices currently on the court, two were appointed by a Democratic governor, and five were appointed by a Republican governor. Pierre-Louis is Gov. Murphy’s first appointment to the court.

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Supreme Court issues opinions on cases involving property fraud and immigration

On May 7, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in two cases argued during its October 2019 term. The court has issued 31 decisions this term.

Kelly v. United States concerned a scheme to reduce local traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge as retaliation after Fort Lee’s mayor refused to endorse New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (R) 2013 re-election bid. The scheme is known as Bridgegate. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and was argued on January 14, 2020.

  • The issue: Whether the defendants committed property fraud.
  • The outcome: In a unanimous ruling, the court reversed the 3rd Circuit’s decision, overturning Kelly’s and Baroni’s wire fraud and fraud from federally funded programs convictions. The court held Kelly and Baroni could not have violated the federal program fraud or wire fraud laws because their actions were regulatory in nature and did not seek to obtain money or property. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the opinion.

United States v. Sineneng-Smith concerned 8 U.S.C. §1324, which makes it a federal felony to “encourag[e] or induc[e] an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of the law.” The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and was argued on February 25, 2020.

  • The issue: “Whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional.”
  • The outcome: The court vacated the judgment of the 9th Circuit and remanded the case in a 9-0 ruling. The court held that the 9th Circuit’s departure from the principle of party presentation, as set forth by Greenlaw v. United States (2008), by reaching to decide a question that was not raised by the respondent in the case constituted an abuse of discretion.

The party presentation principle is a legal principle where parties frame the issues for decision and courts generally serve as neutral arbiters of matters the parties present.



Saleh appointed to Jersey City Council, replacing late councilman who died of COVID-19

Members of the Jersey City Council appointed Yousef Saleh to the council’s vacant Ward D seat on April 30 by a 6-2 vote. Saleh, a compliance and regulation officer at J.P. Morgan who ran for Jersey City’s Board of Education in 2017 and 2018, replaces the late councilman Michael Yun. Yun died of complications related to COVID-19 on April 6.

Saleh will serve on the council until a special election for the seat takes place on November 3. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Yun’s term, which expires in December 2021.

Council positions in Jersey City are officially nonpartisan, as is the mayoral position, though city officials are often affiliated with a political party. Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the top 100 largest U.S. cities by population. In 2020, we’re covering local elections in 33 states and Washington, DC.

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New Jersey closes schools to in-person instruction for remainder of academic year

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Monday that schools would be closed to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. The order applies to both public and private schools. Private schools with longer school years must remain closed through June 30.
Forty-six states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 97% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The four states that have not are: Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, and Wyoming.
Of the four states that have not announced that schools will close for the remainder of the year, one has a Democratic trifecta, one has a Republican trifecta, and two have divided governments. New Jersey has a Democratic trifecta.


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