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November 4, 2015

New Jersey Democrats had a big win Tuesday night, turning three -- or possibly four -- Republican seats blue in the state Assembly, for a total of 51 or 52 votes. At least one of the races is very tight, and the vote tally Tuesday night did not include mail-in or provisional ballots, so it is possible that the total could change in the next week. The change in seats, however, comes tantalizing close to a veto-proof majority of 54 -- something that would change the final two years of the Christie administration dramatically.

The big Democratic win was quite unexpected, since political pundits didn’t expect many changes in the heavily gerrymandered districts despite spending more than $20 million on the election statewide.

The unexpected win was in District 11, where Democrats unseated Republicans. There may be a Democratic upset in District 16, but the final outcome is uncertain.

In District 11, which encompasses 18 municipalities in Monmouth County, two three-term Assemblywomen, Mary Pat Angelini of Ocean and Caroline Casagrande of Colts Neck, were voted out of office. Eric Houghtaling of Neptune Township and Joann Downey of Freehold Township were elected in their stead.

In District 16, Democrat Andrew Zwicker of Princeton may have unseated Republican Donna Simon, but the final tally isn't available at this time. Simon, of Whitehouse Station, is completing her second term. Jack Ciattarelli, the other Republican candidate, is a publisher from Hillsborough; he was reelected to a third term.

If Zwicker does win a seat in the 16th, it would set up a split district.

Split districts are unusual in New Jersey, as evidenced by the results of District 1 in Cape May County. That district saw one Assembly seat flip from Republican to Democrat to bring the district fully Democratic. Bob Andrzejcak a 29-old from Middle Township who was appointed to his first term in the Assembly in 2013, won reelection. Also elected was his running mate, Bruce Land, a retired corrections officer. The district was one of two in the state where there was a split between parties in their Assembly representation.

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