It took a couple of days of counting, but New Jersey’s first nearly all-mail statewide primary turned out to be good for incumbents.
Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer, of the 5th District, and Bill Pascrell, of the 9th, were declared the winners Thursday by The Associated Press in their northern New Jersey contests. Their victories mean that no incumbent lost in Tuesday’s election.
Incumbents typically hold a strong advantage over challengers, and it proved true in this year’s unique voting format.
This year, Gottheimer’s and one of Pascrell’s challengers tried to run to the left of the incumbents.
In the 5th District, Arati Kreibich, a scientist and Glen Rock council member, won the endorsement of the left-leaning group New Jersey Working Families. Zinovia Spezakis in the 9th ran on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ slogan of Not Me, Us.
The 5th District includes parts of Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties. Gottheimer is seeking a third term.
The 9th District is made up of parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties. Besides Spezakis, Pascrell defeated Alp Basaran, of Fort Lee, as part of his effort to win a 13th term.
Gottheimer has cast himself as a problem solver and moderate, while Pascrell has been unabashedly critical of Republican President Donald Trump.
The GOP contest in the 5th District was also called on Thursday. Frank Pallotta, of Mahwah, emerged victorious in the four-way contest there.
Two high-profile races remain uncalled: The GOP contest for Senate and the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Cory Booker. The 3rd District House race also has not been called yet.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who wasn’t on the ballot this year, mandated the election take place primarily by mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
County officials have until July 14 to count votes that were postmarked by 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Issues with voter signatures on ballot envelopes can be resolved until July 23.
Besides Gottheimer and Pascrell the other victorious incumbents are: Republicans Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew, along with Democrats: Bonnie Watson Coleman, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne Jr and Albio Sires.