News center
Deep expertise in sales and manufacturing strategies

Polls open for primary election, with most candidates running unopposed

Sep 21, 2023

Few legislative primaries are contested this year, but at least one race will seal the fate of an incumbent senator. (Daniella Heminghaus for New Jersey Monitor)

It's Election Day in New Jersey, and the Legislature is on the ballot.

New Jersey voters will select which candidates will face off for Statehouse seats in November, but most voters will find they have little choice over who to vote for: Just 11 Assembly races are contested, and that number falls to 10 in the Senate.

Republicans are hoping for a repeat this fall of their 2021 wins — the party flipped seven seats that had previously been held by Democrats — that represented the party's best legislative election in three decades.

Today's primaries will result in at least one longtime senator losing their seat in the upper chamber. In the 27th District, Sens. Nia Gill and Dick Codey, both Essex County Democrats, will face off after a redrawing of the district's boundaries placed the two incumbents in the same district.

Codey, a former governor, has the backing of Essex County Democrats and their chairman, LeRoy Jones, who helms the state party.

Though numerous other contested primaries have delved deep into the mud, the two incumbents have eschewed similar attacks.

Down in the Third District, Sen. Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) faces a challenge from Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-Gloucester), nearly two years after a ticket led by Durr achieved a surprise ouster of then-Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2021.

This year, Assemblyman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Gloucester) joins Hopewell Township Committeeman Thomas Tedesco on Durr's ticket. Sawyer has only one Assembly running mate — Joseph Collins Jr. — and is supporting McCarthy Patrick's reelection bid.

Durr's slate has party backing in all three of the district's counties, but Sawyer is running with a slate of competing county commission candidates in Gloucester — which accounts for most of the district's primary votes — that is expected to denude the power of the line.

The retirement of longtime Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester) in the Fourth District has the GOP hoping they can flip control of the district, but first the party has to get past the nasty primary being waged there.

Gloucester County Commissioner Nick DeSilvio and former Washington Township Councilman Chris DelBorrello are locked in a knock-down, drag-out contest to win the Republican nomination to face Democrat Paul Moriarty in November (Moriarty now represents the district in the Assembly).

Former Buena Borough council president Matthew Walker and Amanda Esposito are seeking Assembly seats on DelBorrello's slate, which has lines in Atlantic and Camden counties. They’ll face Michael Clark and Denise Gonzalez, who have the line in Gloucester.

As in the Third District, DelBorrello is running with a slate of competing county commission candidates that could weaken the power of the Gloucester GOP line.

In Morris County, former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce is mounting a comeback bid in the 26th District after losing her seat in the lower chamber two years ago. She and running mate Robert Peluso have challenged Assemblymen Jay Webber and Brian Bergen, both Morris Republicans, for seats in the Assembly.

The district's senator, Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris), faces off against Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo.

The incumbents have the Morris GOP line.

A raft of retirements is guaranteed to shake up representation of the 24th district. Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Sussex) is running unopposed for the seat now held by Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sussex), who is retiring.

In the district's Assembly race, Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia and Chester Township Mayor Mike Inganamort are running on Space's slate against Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski and Lafayette Board of Education President Joshua Aikens.

Space's team has the line in Morris, while the rival Assembly slate has the Warren GOP at their backs. The Sussex GOP is one of the few county organizations in the state that does not award a line.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

An earlier version of this story should have said there are 11 contested Assembly races and 10 contested in the Senate.


by Nikita Biryukov, New Jersey Monitor June 6, 2023

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.