Today is primary day. All 80 Assembly member seats are up for reelection in 40 districts. Voter turnout has been light, principally because there are very few seriously contested races. Could a change in any one of them affect which bills become law? Or how the state is governed? NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron discussed some of the races.
In District 9, incumbent Republicans Brian Rumpf and Dianne Gove are challenged by Howard Height and Frederic Kociban.
In District 15, Aron said, “Veteran Assemblyman Reed Guscioria, a Democrat joined by his new running mate Liz Maher Muoio, Democratic chair who succeeded Bonnie Watson Coleman when she went off to Congress, have a challenger in the form of Dan Toto of Lawrenceville who works for the New Brunswick Housing Authority.”
District 20 has several candidates. “The incumbents Anette Quijano, seven-year assemblywoman, Jamel Holley, sworn in this year to succeed Joe Cryan, Holley former mayor of Roselle. They’re allied with Ray Lesniak and Chris Bollwage, the mayor of Elizabeth. There’s a 20-year feud with a rival machine connected to the Elizabeth Board of Education. Their team is Tony Monteiro and Giuliano Farina,” Aron said. “And just to complicate matters, Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, who would like to be the county chairman, has a couple horses in the race in the form of Vivian Bell and Jorge Batista.”
In Sussex County’s District 24, Parker Space is the Republican incumbent. He’s running with Gail Phoebus, a Sussex County freeholder. “Those two organization-backed Republicans being challenged by Marie Bilik, longtime New Jersey School Boards Association official running separately from another Republican, Nathan Orr,” Aron said.
There are seven candidates in District 31. Aron said it’s another complicated district. “The organization candidates are Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Angela McKnight. The two incumbent Democrats are stepping aside, they’ve been pushed aside — Jason O’Donnell and Charles Mainor — because two new mayors in Jersey City and Bayonne — Steve Fulop and Jimmy Davis — prefer this ticket,” he said. “Of the five other challengers, Bruce Alston, a community activist in Jersey City, I’m told is likeliest to make an impact.”
Aron said even if there are upsets in the primary, it likely won’t impact the way New Jersey is governed. “Because these are all intraparty fights and because most of these people occupy the mid to back benches as it were anyway. Unlikely to have a big impact,” he said.
According to Aron, the power of the incumbency and the power of the legislative map redrawn in 2011 is strong. And it seems that the incumbents get the most money for their campaigns.