Primaries will set stage for momentous fall races

While the intraparty exercise may only hold the interest of the truly committed, control of Congress is very much in play for the fall midterms. In Jersey, two seats are being vacated by Republican incumbents. Beginning in the 2nd District, where Frank LoBiondo is retiring. Three Democrats are on the primary ballot there: Jeff Van Drew, Tanzie Youngblood and William Cunningham.

“Jeff Van Drew is by all accounts going to win the primary, and, I think, win the general,” suggested Seton Hall Political Science professor Matthew Hale. “He’s a pretty conservative Democrat, and that’s what you need in that district, but I think it does have ramifications for national about who gets elected on the Democratic side, moderates or progressives.”

With the president drawing the ire of most of the state’s Democrats, any Democrat would appear to do, and the party establishment is solidly behind Van Drew. On the GOP side, Hirsh Singh, a Trump supporter, is assumed to be leading the pack.

In the 11th District, where Rodney Frelinghuysen is also retiring, Mikie Sherrill has garnered most of the attention. She’s squaring off against Tamara Harris and two others.

“I think a lot of people in this election cycle have become activated because they’re concerned about the chaotic and reckless nature of this administration,” said Sherrill recently, “But that said, once people are activated, they’re focused very much on what they can accomplish and what can get done. So, I don’t hear a lot about Donald Trump.”

Harris said her experience is the exact opposite. “I’m not confused about my advocacy and as for the people of the district and the people in New Jersey,” she said. “I don’t see how you can be a real Democratic candidate, running to try to flip this seat in the general if you’re not prepared to talk about how you’re going to stand up to this man, who literally, every day, assaults not only individuals, but assaults our state as well.”

On the Republican side, conservative Jay Webber is favored, setting up a classic left versus right election in the district that gave birth to NJ 11th for Change, which many feel helped to drive Frelinghuysen into retirement.

At the top of the ticket is the U.S. Senate race, currently occupied by Bob Menendez, just off a roller coaster several years of corruption charges, a rap he beat via mistrial late last year. Menendez faces only token opposition and Bob Hugin is the presumed Republican candidate.

So, this blue wave we keep hearing about. Is it a tsunami, or just a ripple?

“People are getting somewhat exhausted at the scandal of the week from the Trump administration, so that’s tough to maintain,” cautioned Hale.

Most voters will probably sit out tomorrow’s election but that doesn’t make them any less significant, especially when you consider the importance of the midterm elections in the fall.