July 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

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.

Instead, he opted to change residence and move to the 9th, where a sizable number of his current constituents reside.

Early on, Democrats said Rothman had the numbers edge. But Pascrell has come out of the gate fighting with tough press releases and tough ads.

The district is in the New York City suburbs. Ad rates are sky-high, and both candidates have nearly $2 million in cash on hand. But there is angst in New Jersey Democratic circles that the two candidates will crucify each other on the airwaves, when the money could have been spent reinforcing the party during the Gov. Chris Christie Republican-era.

Regardless of who wins, this Member-vs.-Member race means Democrats will lose one Member of the delegation.

10th district
Incumbent: Donald Payne (D)
12th term (85 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

A Democrat will hold this seat in 2013, and it will probably be Payne.

Payne’s recent announcement that he is battling colon cancer does not change his re-election drive, according to his chief of staff. In a statement from his office, Payne is expected to make a full recovery. But Newark Councilman Ron Rice is challenging Payne’s hold on the district. One state Democrat said the primary was “going to be a war.”

It will be a battle of two generations of African-Americans, and Rice is hungry.

Democrats said Payne was aware of the challenge and has been preparing for the primary. He has $1.4 million in cash on hand to protect his seat. In the end, the most influential players in New Jersey Democratic politics are the county party operatives, and Payne is expected to have that support.

It is nearly impossible to overcome the county machine apparatus, so Rice is a long shot to take down the incumbent.

If, though, Payne decides to not seek re-election, Donald Payne Jr. has been groomed to run for the seat.

Regardless of whether he wins, Rice will increase his name identification in the area and is laying the groundwork for his political future.

11th district
Incumbent: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)
9th term (67 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Frelinghuysen inherited some Democrats from Pascrell’s old district, but few are watching this race closely. The Frelinghuysen name is a centuries-old brand in Garden State politics, and he should have no problem earning a 10th term.

12th district
Incumbent: Rush Holt (D)
7th term (53 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Holt is considered another big winner in redistricting. He lost most of his Republican constituents and will likely have the seat as long as he wants it.

Republicans maintain businessman Eric Beck is a great recruit, but with the demographic changes, it will be an uphill climb.

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