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Stories about New Jersey

After switching parties, Van Drew (R) wins re-election in NJ-02

Incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R) defeated Amy Kennedy (D) in the general election for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Van Drew was first elected in 2018 as a Democrat after defeating Seth Grossman (R) 53% to 45%. Van Drew succeeded Frank LoBiondo (R), who held the seat from 1995 until his retirement in 2019.

In December 2019, Van Drew switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican. The day before, he was one of two House Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump (R).

Additional reading:

What happened in two redo elections in 2020?

In 2020, Ballotpedia has identified two elections where the results have been voided and a redo election scheduled in their place: a city council election in Paterson, New Jersey, and a sheriff election in Iron County, Missouri.

A redo election, also known as a revote or special election remedy, is the process of voiding election results and holding a new election. The specific reasons for calling a redo election vary, but might include deliberate efforts to obscure the results such as electoral fraud or mistakes like a broken voting machine.

Typically, states or courts call a redo election only after an interested party—normally a candidate, voter, or election official—contests the election results. While most states have provisions describing how to handle contested elections, these provisions do not normally specify what to do if fraud or mistakes occur.

Most redo elections, like the two described below, take place at the municipal or county level. The most recent redo election for a federal office took place in 2019 in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The last federal redo election before that was in 1974.

Paterson, N.J., city council election

Five candidates—incumbent councilman William McKoy, Chauncey Brown, Sharrieff Bugg, Alex Mendez, and Robyn Spencer—ran in the May 12 city council election for the 3rd Ward in Paterson, New Jersey. Initial results showed Mendez defeating McKoy with 1,595 votes to McKoy’s 1,350, a 245 vote margin. A recount narrowed the margin to 240 votes. Election officials conducted the election entirely by-mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 14, McKoy contested the election results alleging absentee/mail-in electoral fraud in the form of ballots submitted on behalf of voters who later alleged they never received absentee/mail-in ballots. During the May 12 election, election officials rejected 24% of absentee/mail-in ballots in the 3rd Ward compared to 10% s.

On Aug. 16, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela voided the May 12 election and ordered a redo election for Nov. 3, 2020.

Iron County, Mo., sheriff election

Incumbent Roger Medley, Ryan Burkett, Brian Matthiesen, Ben Starnes, and James Womble participated in the Aug. 4 Republican primary for sheriff in Iron County, Missouri. Burkett defeated Medley by 73 votes.

Medley contested the election, alleging the usage of incorrect ballots, a voting machine missing part of its tally tape, and violations of state law such as the mother-in-law of one candidate working as an election judge.

On Aug. 27, Iron County Circuit Judge Kelly Parker voided the election results and set a redo primary election for Sept. 22. Burkett defeated Medley in the redo primary election receiving 42% of the vote to Medley’s 27%.

Angelica Allen-McMillan appointed as New Jersey commissioner of education

On Oct. 20, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that he was appointing Angelica Allen-McMillan as the New Jersey commissioner of education. She will replace outgoing interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer, who had served since the resignation of Lamont Repollet on July 1. Allen-McMillan will serve in an acting capacity until her confirmation by the New Jersey State Senate. 

In a press release, Murphy said, “A product of New Jersey’s public schools, Angelica has worked at all levels of education and knows exactly what our teachers and students need to succeed. She is an exemplary educator and I’m confident she is the leader we need to carry our school communities through the remainder of this pandemic and beyond.”

Allen-McMillan previously served as interim Executive County Superintendent for Morris County. She has also worked as Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education for the Newark Public Schools system, and as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instructions in the Irvington School District.

The New Jersey commissioner of education is the chief executive school officer of New Jersey, overseeing all public schools in the state. The commissioner’s responsibilities include recommending legislative changes, producing research on education, and serving as secretary to the State Board of Education, among other duties. The commissioner is appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate and serves at the pleasure of the governor. 

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Fabiana Pierre-Louis confirmed to state Supreme Court by New Jersey Senate

On August 26, 2020, Justice Walter Timpone announced that he planned to retire early from the New Jersey Supreme Court if supreme court nominee Fabiana Pierre-Louis was confirmed by the Senate before September. On August 27, 2020, the New Jersey Senate voted 39-0 to approve Pierre-Louis.

Pierre-Louis is Governor Phil Murphy’s (D) first nominee to the supreme court. Because Justice Timpone will reach the age of 70 this year, he must retire due to a provision in the state’s constitution.

In the case of a vacancy on the court, the governor is tasked with selecting a nominee who is then confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by a confirmation by the entire Senate.

The state of New Jersey mandates partisan balance on the court. Justice Timpone was nominated as a Democrat, so Gov. Murphy had to nominate a Democrat to the court according to state law. Justice Timpone was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Pierre-Louis is a first generation American and her parents are Haitian immigrants. Gov. Murphy stated, “I am honored to have put her name forward, and to see someone with a different set of life experiences and perspectives on our Supreme Court, a judicial body where New Jerseyans from all walks of life turn for justice.”

After Gov. Murphy announced her nomination, Pierre-Louis stated, “Many years ago, my parents came to the United States from Haiti with not much more than the clothes on their backs and the American dream in their hearts… I think they have achieved that dream beyond measure because my life is certainly not representative of the traditional trajectory of someone who would one day be nominated to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.”

Pierre-Louis was a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. She was also a law clerk for state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace Jr.

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Filing deadline approaches for Jersey City City Council special election

Candidates interested in running in the special election for Jersey City City Council Ward D have until August 31, 2020, to file. The special general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. No primary election is scheduled.

The special election was called after Michael Yun passed away on April 6, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. Yun was first elected in 2013 and held the office until his death.

The winner of the special election will serve out the rest of Yun’s unexpired term, ending on December 31, 2021. All nine seats on the city council are up for regular election in 2021.

Jersey City is the second-largest city in New Jersey by population and the 73rd-largest city in the United States.

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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.

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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.