The primary vote in New Jersey's special Senate Election is today from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m.The election was called by Governor Chris Christie to fill the final 15 months of incumbent U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) following his death. The primary winners will face off in an election on Wednesday, October 16. Jeff Chiesa was appointed by Christie to temporarily fill the seat until a candidate is elected.

The primary is open to all voters registered to a specific party. Independent voters needed to have filled out a  New Jersey Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form and filed it 55 days ago.


Special Senate Election Demorat candidates (L-R) Sheila Oliver, Frank Pallone, Cory Booker & Rush Holt (all official portraits except Cory Booker/Getty Images)

Cory Booker

AGE: 44, born April 27, 1969.

GREW UP: Harrington Park.

FAMILY: Single, son of two of the first black IBM executives.


POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Mayor of Newark since July 1, 2006. Previously served on City Council.

EDUCATION: Undergraduate and master's degrees from Stanford University; law degree from Yale University; Rhodes scholar. A former tight end on Stanford's football team.

NOTABLE: After law school, Booker moved into a notoriously tough housing project in Newark and worked at a nonprofit group in the city. His first campaign for mayor — he lost — was the subject of the documentary film "Street Fight." Along with Gov. Chris Christie, he accepted a $100 million pledge in 2010 from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to improve Newark's education system.

ON THE ISSUES: The major plans he has announced during the campaign have been a broad proposal to reduce childhood poverty through measures including raising the federal minimum wage and free preschool for low-income children starting at age 3 and a plan to start innovation institutes aimed at reinvigorating U.S. manufacturing. He differs from some Democrats in that he supports using taxpayer money to pay for poor students to attend private schools. He supports gay marriage. He was also one of the first politicians to embrace Twitter, where he has 1.4 million followers.


CAMPAIGN CASH: As of June 30, he had raised $6.5 million.

QUOTE: "We need someone in the United States Senate who's actually had to work on difficult problems, who's actually had to find people jobs, who's actually had people standing in front of their homes and had to work on everything from getting people into food stamp programs to helping young people better afford college."

Rush Holt

AGE: 64, born Oct. 15, 1948 in Weston, W.Va.

FAMILY: Married to physician Margaret Lancefield, three adult children, seven grandchildren.

RESIDENCE: Hopewell.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Serving his eighth term as the U.S. Representative from New Jersey's 12th District.

EDUCATION: Undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., doctorate in physics from New York University.

OCCUPATION: Was a scientist before joining Congress. He served as assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and before that worked for the U.S. State Department as acting chief of the Nuclear and Scientific Division of the Office of Strategic Force Analysis. He has also taught at Swarthmore College.

NOTABLE: His father, Rush Holt Sr., was a U.S. Senator from West Virginia from 1935 to 1941, and his mother, Helen Froelich Holt, now 99, served as secretary of state in West Virginia. Holt is a five-time winner on "Jeopardy!" and beat IBM's Watson computer at the quiz game in 2011.

ON THE ISSUES: Holt is considered among the more liberal members of Congress. In campaign videos, he calls for single-payer health insurance, taxing pollution, blocking the National Security Administration from warrantless wiretapping, taxing stock trade, making high-earners pay more into the Social Security system, reducing student loan rates and repealing the Patriot Act, which expanded law enforcement's right to gather information without warrants.


CAMPAIGN CASH: As of June 30, Holt's Senate campaign had just over $1 million on hand, nearly half of it transferred from his House campaign fund, and he had more than $400,000 left in his House election fund.

QUOTE: "The purpose of government should be to look after the people who need help the most."

Sheila Y. Oliver
AGE: 61. Born July 14, 1952.

GREW UP: Newark, on the same street as the late Rep. Donald Payne Sr. and his son, Donald Payne Jr., who now represents the district.

FAMILY: Single.

RESIDENCE: East Orange.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Assembly speaker since 2010. Assembly member since 2004. Previously served on East Orange Board of Education, Essex County Board of Freeholders. Essex County administrator since 2000.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in sociology from Lincoln University in 1974; master's in planning and administration from Columbia University in 1976.

NOTABLE: First African-American woman to lead New Jersey's General Assembly.

ON THE ISSUES: Oliver has taken the lead on some divisive state issues, such as increasing the minimum wage, legalizing gay marriage, ensuring funding for public schools and restoring an income tax credit for the working poor. She believes in building the economy from the middle out, which means educating and training workers for jobs of the future. She would invest in infrastructure to spur the economy. She says New Jersey needs a female representative in Washington.


CAMPAIGN CASH: Has not been required to file yet.

QUOTE: "It's time for women to step out and demonstrate to the two dominant political parties that women are not going to stand back in the shadow for too many more election cycles and not be given an opportunity to be supported by their respective parties for federal office."

Frank Pallone

AGE: 61. Born Oct. 30, 1951

GREW UP: Born and raised in Long Branch, where he still resides.

FAMILY: Married, 3 children

RESIDENCE: Long Branch, Washington

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Sworn in this year to his 13th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 6th congressional district, which covers most of Middlesex County and the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County. Began his political career on Long Branch City Council and also served in state Legislature before winning election to Congress in 1988.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, Middlebury College, 1973. Master's degree, international relations, Tufts University. Law degree, Rutgers University, 1978.

OCCUPATION: Politician.

NOTABLE: Was endorsed by the family of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who the winner of the race will succeed in the Senate, as the candidate most likely to preserve and continue the liberal Democrat's legacy.

ON THE ISSUES: Legislative priorities have been the protection and restoration of environmental resources and making health care more affordable and accessible. Played a leading role in passage of Affordable Care Act; championed laws expanding health care coverage to low- and middle-income children, reforming the nation's food safety system and stopping ocean dumping in the Atlantic.


CAMPAIGN CASH: Began the Senate campaign with $3 million, the most of any candidate. Raised $160,000 in June.

QUOTE: "I believe government can make a difference in people's live. Based on my experience and the fact that I've been able to get things done in the House ... I can do that much more as a senator. My being one of 100 means I can do more than if I'm one of 435."


Republican senate primary candidates (L-R) Alieta Eck and Steve Lonegan (Both Facebook)

Alieta Eck

AGE: 61; born May 11, 1952.

GREW UP: Union

FAMILY: Married with five adult children.

RESIDENCE: Franklin Township.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Has never run for office before.

EDUCATION: Degree in pharmacy from Rutgers, M.D. from St. Louis University School of Medicine.

OCCUPATION: Physician in private practice in Piscataway and founder of the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic in Franklin Township.

NOTABLE: Has twice testified before U.S. Senate committees on health insurance issues.

ON THE ISSUES: Her priority if repealing President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul. Instead wants government to offer medical malpractice coverage for doctors in exchange for donating time to treating uninsured patients. Believes the federal government should be "downsized."


CAMPAIGN CASH: Raised $29,000 in June.

QUOTE: "America was once great. We could return to that greatness if we could do away with the yoke of oppression."

Steve Lonegan

AGE: 57; born April 27, 1956, in Teaneck.

GREW UP: Ridgefield Park

FAMILY: Married with two adult daughters.


POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Served three terms as mayor of Bogota, ran for Congress in 1998 and sought Republican nomination for governor in 2005 and 2009. Leader of a successful campaign against a ballot initiative that would have increased the state's sales tax and leader of opposition to a 2008 plan to increase tolls on some state roads dramatically.

EDUCATION: B.A. from William Paterson College; MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

OCCUPATION: Resigned last month as New Jersey director of Americans for Prosperity. He had held the job since 2006, except for parts of 2008 and 2009, when he resigned to run for governor; previously worked as custom home builder and as finance vice chair for the National Federation of Independent Business.

NOTABLE: His 2003 re-election campaign as mayor was featured in the documentary film, "Anytown, U.S.A.;" he played football at William Paterson; is legally blind; author of "Putting Taxpayers First: A Blueprint for Victory in the Garden State." Attracted widespread attention in 2006 for a campaign to make English the official language of Bogota.

ON THE ISSUES: A social conservative who calls for a reduction in the size and scope of government. Supports tax cuts and opposes government bailouts of corporations, increasing the minimum wage and calls for repeal of President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul. Also opposes gay marriage and abortion rights.


CAMPAIGN CASH: Lonegan said that his campaign raised just over $200,000 from the time it launched until the end of June.

QUOTE: "There will always be a safety net in this country to help those who need it. That safety net has expanded into a spider web."