Shortly after casting his vote in Englewood, Congressman Steve Rothman found the perfect photo op. The eight-term congressman is in the fight of his life against fellow Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell in the reconfigured ninth congressional district. It’s a fight Pascrell, also an eight-term congressman, says didn’t have to happen.
“This is an election that could have been avoided, a lot of money could’ve been saved to help our brothers and sisters across the country running against Tea Party people, but it is what is,” said Pascrell. “I took the cards that were dealt to me.”
Pascrell is referring to Rothman’s decision to challenge him, a Democrat and friend, instead of facing off against conservative Republican Scott Garrett in the fifth congressional district. In the final hours of the campaign, both candidates were optimistic of winning and polls show the race is too close to call.
Another hotly contested race is in the neighboring 10th congressional district. Six candidates are vying for the late congressman Donald Payne Sr.’s seat. His son, Newark Councilman Donald Payne Jr., is among the frontrunners.
According to Payne, it is now up to the voters to decide. “Everything is done now and people just have to come out and vote and just wait for the results,” he said. “It’s all over but the shouting as they say.”
Newark councilman Ron Rice, son of state Sen. Ron Rice, is also a strong contender, as is longtime state Sen. Nia Gill. After voting in her hometown of Montclair this afternoon, Gill recognized today’s election is not getting a big response from the people.
Gill said, “I would suspect that voter turnout is going to be low and that is a reality of the function of the primary in this kind of season. We’re going to get votes necessary to win no matter what the turnout is.”
A handful of Montclair residents we spoke with said they came out to support President Obama who is not being challenged for the Democratic nomination. Among them was Ruby Furr, who had this message for apathetic voters: “There’s so many people who don’t vote. They complain about what’s going on, but they don’t come out to vote. More people need to register.”
Leroy Hopkins of Montclair says it’s important to come out and vote. “It makes a difference,” he said. “Every vote makes a difference.”
And it’s likely every vote will make a difference in the tight contests in both the ninth and 10th congressional district races.
Desiree Taylor reports.