Closed New Jersey Primary Produces Little Surprises, Low Turnout

Created: 04 June, 2014
Updated: 14 October, 2022
2 min read

On Tuesday’s closed primary elections in New Jersey, where unaffiliated voters were locked out of the process, party affiliates turned up in low numbers to elect their candidates. As a result, no surprises emerged from the electoral results.

In the Senate primary, Cory Booker ran unopposed. In the fall, he will face John Bell, who squeaked out a win in the four-way Republican primary. Bell, a former Reagan speechwriter, will be running for the position for the second time. He first ran against Bill Bradley in 1978, but lost.

Some old supporters came out to endorse his run again, 36 years later:


The most important U.S. House races come from the three seats left open by two retirements and one resignation.

In the first district, state Senator Donald Norcross and former Philadelphia Eagles player Garry Cobb both won their respective Democrat and Republican nominations easily and will gear up for a heated race in the fall. The winner of the general election will replace Democratic Representative Rob Andrews, who resigned in February after more than 23 years in office.

Norcross’s political history in the state and Cobb’s star power promise an interesting race.

In the third district, Amy Belgard also won easily on the Democratic side, but former Republican Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur

faced a much closer race against Steve Lonegan. Lonegan had run a tight race against Cory Booker in the special Senate election in 2013 and was widely expected to do well with his strong name recognition and popularity against Booker.

MacArthur managed to prevail.

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The winner of the general election will replace Jon Runyan, also a former Eagles player, who decided not to run for re-election. This race is widely seen to be the most competitive in the fall and one to keep an eye on.

In the twelfth district, Rush Holt’s retirement set off flurry among Democratic candidates. Bonnie Watson Coleman won the primary with 42.6 percent of the vote, and will face Republican Alieta Eck, who ran unopposed. No woman has represented New Jersey in Congress since Marge Roukema retired in 2003.

While independents are widely expected to participate in this race and will certainly shake it up, these candidates guarantee the first female to represent the state in over a decade.

Across the state, though, low voter turnout seemed to characterize the races. Both elections in 2013 in the Garden State witnessed some of the lowest voter turnout rates the state has ever seen. While no official turnout numbers have been released for the 2014 primaries, reports from across the state acknowledge poor attendance.

One poll worker in Jersey City admitted that after 20 years on the job, this was the “lowest turnout" he has ever seen. By 1 p.m., under 100 people had participated in the election at their polling location. The pace did not pick up as the day progressed.

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