Unlike two years ago, New Jersey has no open seats in this year’s congressional primary, but it does have more contests, as well as star-studded slates for presidential delegates.
Gov. Chris Christie and his son Andrew, former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and former Rep. Dick Zimmer are some of the Republicans vying for the chance to vote for their chosen presidential candidate — the Christies backing Donald Trump while Whitman and Zimmer are supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich — in Cleveland, Ohio.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has the biggest names in elected officials, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also has some union leaders and activists seeking to back him at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.
Voters do not choose individual delegates, but vote for the presidential candidate of their choice. The Republican primary is winner-take-all, so whoever wins a majority of voters also gets all the delegates. The Democrats award a percentage of delegates to each candidate by district — two legislative districts equal a delegate district — based on the percentage of the vote each candidate receives in each district.
The would-be delegates and party congressional candidates had to file with the NJ Division of Elections by 4 p.m. Monday in order to appear on the June 7 ballot.
In all, 312 people — 144 Republicans and 168 Democrats — are hoping to represent one of the five presidential candidates at the conventions in July.
Also this year, 39 candidates are seeking the right to represent their parties on the November ballot to fill New Jersey’s 12 seats in the House of Representatives. There are contests for at least one of the parties’ nominees in 10 of those districts. Neither U.S. Senate seat is up this year.
The incumbent is being challenged in all but one of the districts with contested races — freshman Republican Tom MacArthur of the 3rd District in South Jersey, the most contentious race in 2014, does not have an opponent.
Some of the battles are reruns, including businessman David Larsen’s challenge of Rep. Leonard Lance on the Republican ballot in the 7th District in Central Jersey. It’s Larsen’s fourth try at unseating the four-term congressman and he started campaigning even before the filing deadline by robo-calling voters in the district to introduce himself and declare, “I am not a politician.”
And in the 11th District, Rick Van Glahn, a home improvement contractor and Catholic deacon, is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, a longtime elected official, for the second time in a row.
Rep. E. Scott Garrett, in the northernmost 5th District, faces the largest field of any incumbent, with two GOP challengers: Peter Vallorosi, a Newton man who calls himself a “Pissed off Patriot” on his Twitter page, and Demarest businessman Michael J. Cino, who unsuccessfully challenged Garrett in the 2012 primary. Garrett has been under fire recently for reportedly saying he would not help fund gay candidates, although Garrett recently said he is not against sexual orientation but against candidates who support same-sex marriage.
New Jersey’s two other freshmen representatives were not as lucky as MacArthur. In the 1st District, which includes Camden, Democrat Donald Norcross faces 24-year old Alex Law of Oaklyn. And in the 12th, which includes Trenton, Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman is facing county college professor Alexander Kucsma of Somerset.
The other incumbents facing challengers are:
* Rep. Frank LoBiondo, probably the most liberal of New Jersey’s House Republicans, is being challenged by Ednard Enes of Milmay in South Jersey’s 2nd District.
* In the 4th, longtime Rep. Christopher Smith faces Bruce MacDonald of Hamilton.
* Democratic Rep. Albio Sires, in the 8th District based in Hudson County, is being challenged by Eloy Delgado, a public school teacher from Elizabeth.
* Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-9th, faces former Paterson mayor Jeffrey Jones.
Democratic challengers are fighting for the right to face a GOP incumbent in November in four districts:
* In the 2nd District, David Cole of Sewell and Constantino Rozzo of Vineland.
* In the 3rd, Jim Keady of Waretown and Frederick John Lavergne of Delanco.
*In the 7th, Peter Jacob and Chris Faraone, both of Union.
* In the 11th, Lee Ann Brogowski of Mount Tabor, Joseph Wenzel of West Orange and Richard McFarlane of Haskell.
Only the 6th District, which includes much of Monmouth County, and the 10th, based in Newark, have no contested primaries for either party. Democrats represent both: Rep. Frank Pallone in the 6th and Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th.
Regardless of party, the process for becoming a presidential nominee elector is complicated. And there are many high-profile New Jerseyans hoping to get to a convention and be part of the nominating process.
Among the hopeful delegates:
For Trump — In addition to the governor and his son, a 22-year old Princeton University senior, state Sens. Joseph Pennaccio of the 26th District, Michael Doherty of the 23rd, and Samuel Thompson of the 12th, influential lobbyist Dale Florio and Jon Hanson, a Christie ally, real estate developer and former head of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority.
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, R-25th, frequent candidate Steve Lonegan and his wife Lorraine of Hackensack, and Richard Pezzullo, an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in 2014.
For Kasich — In addition to Whitman and Zimmer, state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-11th, former state treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, and well-known GOP lawyer Lawrence Bathgate, who served as Republican national finance chairman under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
For Clinton — Sens. Shirley Turner, Nicholas Scutari, M. Teresa Ruiz and Loretta Weinberg; and Assembly members Paul Moriarty, Gabriela Mosquera, Adam Taliaferro, Troy Singleton, Gerald Green, Annette Quijano, Cleopatra Tucker, Anjelica Jimenez, Shavonda Sumter, Timothy Eustace and Valerie Vaineri Huttle.
For Sanders — Seth Hahn and Hetty Rosenstein, both of the Communications Workers of America, and Analilia Mejia, state director of NJ Working Families.