Freshman U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, the former Newark mayor and a prominent Democrat, won a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg last October but is back on the ballot seeking a full term.
Unopposed in the primary, Booker is facing Republican Jeff Bell, who won a four-man primary last June and is trying for a third time to win a U.S. Senate seat. There are five independent candidates representing different parties: Joseph Baratelli, Libertarian Party; Jeff Boss, independent; Eugene Martin Lavergne, Democratic-Republican Party; Antonio N. Sabas, independent; and Hank Schroeder, Economic Growth.
While Republicans appear to be surging in Senate seats nationally, Bell has a daunting task ahead of him. Booker won last year in an odd Wednesday election with a margin of more than 10 percentage points. The most recent poll, by Monmouth University, has him leading Bell by 15 points. More voters are registered as Democrats in New Jersey than Republicans -- 32.8 percent vs. 19.8 percent. And New Jersey voters have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.