NJ Dems Tighten Their Control of State Assembly
Despite low voter turnout in Tuesday's election, New Jersey Democrats managed to secure their largest majority in the state Assembly since 1979.
Voters helped expand the party's control in Trenton, taking back one seat in the 1st District and knocking two Republicans out of office in the 11th District.
But while the election results came as a victory for Democrats, it was a defeat for Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity in the Garden State has dropped since his presidential campaign kicked off.
Following Tuesday's race, the Democrats now control 51 of the 80 seats in the lower house. The party also maintains control of the state Senate - which was not on the ballot Tuesday — in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 1.7 million to 1 million.
The two biggest wins for the Democrats came in the 1st and 11th Districts. In the 11th District, which includes Monmouth County, JoAnn Downey and Eric Houghtaling defeated Republican incumbents Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande. The Democrats unseated the incumbents by a margin of just a few hundred votes.
In the 1st District, which includes portion of South Jersey, Democrats secured full control of a district that was previously split between both parties. Democratic incumbent Bob Andrzejcazk and his running mate, R. Bruce Land defeated GOP incumbent Sam Fiocchi and his running mate Jim Sauro.
The District 2 race was also expected to be hotly contested, with Democratic incumbent Vincent Mazzeo and Cape May County Freeholder Colin Bell up against Republican incumbent Chris Brown and Freeholder Will Pauls. The district includes part of Atlantic County. The race was close and the seats remained split, with Mazzeo and Brown retaining their seats.
NJ.com reported that according to experts, fundraising provided a large boost to Democrats. "According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, independent groups spent more than $8.5 million on the races."
In addition, "the General Majority PAC — which backed Democratic candidates — spent about $3 million in the tight 1st and 2nd districts, according to ELEC." A good portion of those funds come from a group founded by the New Jersey Education Association, which has long been at odds with Christie.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.