2022 Elections Result in Close Races but Less Turnover Than Expected
With mid-term elections serving as a referendum on the party-in-power, Democrats braced for losses and Republicans sought to catch a “red wave” both in New Jersey and nationwide. Although votes are still being counted in some races, both sides can claim victory, as Republicans were able to pick up some seats and Democrats were able to blunt significant Republican gains.
New Jersey’s congressional delegation will remain a Democratic majority, as only one of the hotly contested races resulted in an incumbent Democrat’s loss.
In New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, Republican Tom Kean, Jr. and Democrat Tom Malinowski faced off in a rematch of the 2020 election to represent Central Jersey residents. Mr. Malinowski defeated Mr. Kean then by less than 1 percent, but redistricting made the 7th District more Republican. With a more favorable map, Mr. Kean was able to defeat Congressman Malinowski by about 4 percentage points.
In the 3rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Andy Kim won nearly 55 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Bob Healey. It was unclear if the newly redrawn district would present a challenge for the sitting congressman; however, by midnight, the election returns demonstrated that Mr. Kim was safely re-elected.
Other congressional races, such as the contests in the 5th and 11th Districts, were also viewed as high-profile; however, Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-5) and Mikie Sherrill (D-11) easily defeated their Republican challengers. Efforts taken by Democrats during the congressional redistricting process to make those districts more favorable to Democrats were successful, albeit at the expense of Representative Malinowski and the loss of Democratic towns from the 7th District.
While not considered a competitive race, New Jersey will have another newcomer to the congressional delegation with the election of Rob Menendez to replace the retiring Representative Albio Sires. Representative-elect Menendez, a Democrat and son of Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s senior Senator, easily won election in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District.
Incumbent Democrat Representatives Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Bill Pascrell (NJ-9), Donald Payne (NJ-10), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and incumbent Republican Representatives Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-2) and Chris Smith (NJ-4) will all be returning to Washington D.C. as part of the New Jersey congressional delegation.
Many looked to county and local races throughout the state for an indication of whether voters sought a change in leadership. In Gloucester County, for example, the County Commissioner race was close; however Democrats Frank DiMarco and Denice DiCarlo defeated Republicans Adam Wingate and Stephen Pakradooni, Jr. by 1 percent of the vote.
In Somerset County, Democrats retained the Sherriff and County Clerk positions as well as the lone County Commissioner seat up for election. For decades, Somerset County was traditionally a Republican stronghold, but Democrats have made inroads in the county recently and have control over the Commissioner Board and all major county offices.
Democrats Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore won the County Commissioner seats in Passaic County, a county where Republicans hoped for an upset.
One area where races have yet to be called is in Mercer County, where a significant voting machine issue has delayed the vote count. This impacts not only county races, but also local races including the city of Trenton’s mayoral race and council-at-large races.
At the national level, Republicans will likely gain control of the House of Representatives but with only a limited majority, and control of the Senate remains up for grabs. In neighboring Pennsylvania, the hotly contested Senate race between Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz resulted in Democrats picking up the Senate seat with Fetterman’s win. Senate races in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada will ultimately determine which party will control the upper house.