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Race Ratings: Democrats Likely to Lose Edge in New Jersey Delegation

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Bill Pascrell (above) has come out of the gate fighting in his primary race against fellow Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman.

John Adler’s 2008 election was a historical anomaly. He was the first Democrat in generations to hold the seat. It will be an uphill battle for Shelley Adler, but Democrats say it is within reach.

This race is where Democrats place their highest hopes for a pickup in the Garden State. One New Jersey Democrat said that should the DCCC choose to invest considerable money, it could push the race into the tossup column.

Republicans say that in the Philadelphia television market, a DCCC investment would have to be exponential to make a difference in the race.

Both sides are bullish on their chances.

4th district
Incumbent: Chris Smith (R)
16th term (69 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Redistricting gave Smith a sizable number of new constituents, but unless a primary challenge emerges, he should be in good shape for re-election.

5th district
Incumbent: Scott Garrett (R)
5th term (65 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican

Garrett’s district gained some Democratic voters in redistricting, and Democrats are looking to play hard here. They say Garrett’s brand of conservatism does not fit his redrawn district, and with a moderate Democratic recruit, they could win this seat.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D) was drawn into this district but opted to run in the Democratic 9th district. Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether he could have defeated Garrett, but even if he did, he would have had to fight for re-election for the next decade.

Rothman’s liberal voting record could have proven difficult and would have created a stark contrast to the very conservative Garrett.

Garrett’s $1.7 million war chest, the fact that this district is covered by the expensive New York media market and uncertainty about the Democratic challenger make this a Likely Republican district. Democrats are actively recruiting candidates and should they field a strong nominee with fundraising prowess, this could be a race to watch.

6th district
Incumbent: Frank Pallone (D)
12th term (55 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Pallone saw a small improvement for Democrats in his district under the new map. No serious primary challenger is on the radar. As it stands, Pallone is on safe footing for a 13th term.

National Republicans caution not to write off the district, though, depending on whether they can recruit a serious challenger.

7th district
Incumbent: Leonard Lance (R)
2nd term (59 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

One Democrat described Lance’s re-election prospects as “in like Flynn.” Lance is perceived as one of the biggest winners in redistricting. Republicans in the state say Lance was the unintended beneficiary of Democratic attempts to protect Rothman and Pascrell in north New Jersey.

8th district
Incumbent: Albio Sires (D)
3rd term (74 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

There is little question in the Garden State that Sires will return to Congress in 2013.

9th district
Member vs. Member: Bill Pascrell (D) vs. Steven Rothman (D)
8th term (63 percent); 8th term (61 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Democratic heartburn isn’t the appropriate term for this race. It’s heartache.

New Jersey lost a seat in redistricting, and a bipartisan commission ended up drawing lines that put Rothman in the 5th district. He could have run against Garrett, and some say he might have won.

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