While Democrats still hold a majority in New Jersey Republicans had reason to celebrate on Tuesday night and Democrat State Senate President Steve Sweeney slammed Democrat Governor Phil Murphy. After Murphy told reporters that Democrat wins in lower-tier races and tight races in competitive State Assembly districts amounted to a successful night for Democrats saying “the party is stronger than before without question” Sweeney replied “Are you kidding me?” . Sweeney told NJ Advance Media “Really? How do you spin that? It wasn’t a good day. This is the first net loss in the Senate in a decade. You can spin it however you want. We lost”.
Sweeney said Republicans made gains because of Murphy “We did everything we could. The problem is when we have an administration that only talks about raising taxes every day, it’s not helpful. We are a tax-sensitive state”. Murphy famously said before the election “If you’re a one-issue voter and tax rate is your issue, either a family or a business, if that’s the only basis upon which you’re going to make a decision, we’re probably not your state”.
Murphy tried to spin Democratic losses by touting wins in lower-tier races and claiming that those who lost did so because they failed to embrace him and his radical left agenda saying “The extent to which folks were running sort of broadly consistent with that stronger and fairer agenda that we talk about and we live every day, they either did better than expected, they were really competitive or they won”. Murphy continued “And the folks, who on the other hand, were not in that same neighborhood in terms of the agenda they ran on, not on that stronger and fairer space (and) chose to take a different path for the most part they either did less well than expected, they weren’t as competitive, or they lost”.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, the state’s second-highest-ranking Republican legislator was victorious on Tuesday along with running mate Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz in a closely watched race Democrats hoped to win. “Phil Murphy has had a honeymoon. His honeymoon is over. It’s not about Donald Trump. It’s not about Chris Christie. It’s about Phil Murphy” Bramnick said from his Westfield headquarters.
Republican Political Consultant and former Chris Christie Adviser Mike DuHaime said that the Democratic strategy failed as they tried to nationalize the election or bring Christie into 2019 races “Elections are about the future. Not the past,” DuHaime said. “I think the governor and his team over-read his own election results. His popularity is coming down in the suburbs”. DeHaime said that New Jersey, as Democratic-heavy as it is, isn’t as progressive as Murphy as a whole. “It’s probably only Steve Sweeney and Craig Coughing that saved him from enacting a far-left agenda that would have resulted in even worse results,” DuHaime said.
According to Rider University Political Scientist Micah Rasmussen this is the first time in 26-years that Democrats have not expanded their legislative caucuses. In every election since 1993 they have been adding to their ranks. “To put it another way, this is the first time since 1991 that Republicans are actually going to increase their membership in the Legislature” Rasmussen told NJ 1015. “For the last three decades, we’ve been asking ourselves: Have the Republicans reached the bottom?” he said. “And it looks like tonight – of course, you don’t know this until after you reach and bottom and after you scrape yourself off the floor – but it looks like they may finally have reached the bottom and are picking themselves back up again” Rassmussen said.
John Froonjia, Interim Executive Director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University told The Press of Atlantic City that two important things happened just before the election that motivated Republicans to vote. The House of Representatives voted on rules to proceed with impeachment proceedings against President Trump and Governor Murphy’s Attorney General issued a demand that Cape May County end its cooperative agreement with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Clearly the Republicans were better at getting their people out than the Democrats were,” Froonjian said.
New Jersey Republican Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt said “I am proud of our candidates and the work we have done to build a foundation for the NJGOP. Republicans in New Jersey won’t be shouted into a corner. It was great to be on offense in places like LD-1. We pushed back Phil Murphy’s blue wave and in a state like New Jersey, that gives us momentum going into 2020”.
2020 Congressional Candidate Josh Duvall said “Last night was truly a referendum on the status quo of New Jersey politics. In multiple battleground races, Republicans – Not Democrats, came out victorious”. Duvall continued “Now that the political page has turned to the 2020 race, momentum for change is clearly growing in New Jersey. For the last six months in a deeply blue district, I’ve been talking to Republican, Democrat and Independent voters. They all have one major thing in common – they feel the status quo of New Jersey politics is corrupt, self–serving and untenable”. Voters are ready for a change. Last night’s results are proof-positive the tide is turning” Duvall said.
The big win of the night was in LD-1 where in what was called the most competitive race in the state Republican Michael Testa unseated Senator Bob Andrejczak. Testa a Vineland attorney and the Cumberland County Republican chairman, is the first Republican in New Jersey to flip a Democratic Senate seat in 12 years. Rounding out Team Testa were Republican Assembly candidates Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan who unseated incumbent Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matt Milam. McClellan, an Ocean City Councilman will be the first African American to represent New Jersey’s 1st Legislative District.
In South Jersey’s other hotly contested race for Assembly in the 8th District Republicans Ryan Peters and Jean Stanfield beat Democrats Gina LaPlaca and Mark Nitale. In New Jersey’s 9th District Republican incumbents Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove retained their Assembly seats.
The other big win of the night was in Sussex County where voters overwhelmingly responded yes to a ballot question that asked whether the county should assist federal immigration officials despite Attorney General Grewal’s directive demanding New Jersey law enforcement not cooperate with ICE. The ballot question read: “Should the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Sussex cooperate with and make reasonably available to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the tools, resources, personnel, and real, personal and intellectual property owned by the County, under its direct control”. The vote gives Freeholders the green light to back Sheriff Mike Strada if he is challenged in court for not abiding by the Immigrant Trust Directive which went into effect in March.
“It’s now on to 2020 where Republicans will have the opportunity to come together as one loud voice to support President Trump, U.S. Senate candidate Tricia Flanagan and U.S. Congress candidates such as Dana DiRisio and Josh Duvall” said Mike Astringer of the Informed Conservative. “Our state Chairman Doug Steinhardt is providing our party leadership but it is imperative that each and every Republican in New Jersey come together to achieve the common goal of reelecting our President, telling Governor Murphy that we the people disagree with the direction he is taking our state and elect Republican candidates in New Jersey” Astringer said.
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