The polls have closed in New Jersey, which on Tuesday held an unprecedented primary election that was delayed five weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic and conducted mainly by mail-in ballot.
Most of the state’s 12 House members, as well as Democratic Sen. Cory Booker faced primary challengers, but the key races were for two House seats in South Jersey.
The election was also a test of the progressive movement in New Jersey in the face of strong Democratic machines that have easily turned back challengers in the past. In one South Jersey district, Republicans had a choice between seeking to win back suburban women who have been fleeing the party or doubling down on perceived loyalty to President Donald Trump.
Though the election was conducted mostly by mail-in ballot, voters had the option of voting in-person by provisional ballot. That’s expected to delay the results, at least in close races. Mail-in ballots will be counted until next Tuesday, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Provisional ballots will not be counted until July 15.
In the 2nd Congressional District, which comprises all or parts of eight South Jersey counties, five Democrats vied to take on Democrat-turned-Republican freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew who, upon switching parties, pledged his “undying support” to Trump.
The race had the added significance of being viewed as a proxy fight between the South Jersey Democratic machine — led by insurance broker George Norcross and state Senate President Steve Sweeney, which supported political science professor Brigid Harrison — and progressive groups aligned with Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s major public sector unions that backed Amy Kennedy, a former school teacher who married into the Democrats’ most famous political dynasty.
Also running were attorney Will Cunningham, a former congressional staffer, environmentalist John Francis III and former FBI agent Will Turkavage. Cunningham, who is Black, did not pick up any support from the Democratic establishment. He has accused the media of racial bias for focusing on the two white women candidates.
In the 3rd District, which is made up of parts of two counties and stretches from the Jersey Shore to the Philadelphia suburbs, two Republicans vied to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim in November.
Kate Gibbs, a 34-year-old former freeholder in Burlington County, had been expected to skate to the nomination, but Van Drew’s party switch changed all that. David Richter, a wealthy former construction company executive had declared his candidacy for the GOP nomination to run against Van Drew, the former Democrat in the 2nd District. But he succumbed to pressure from Republicans who sought to clear the primary field for Van Drew and chose to run in the 3rd District instead.
The race was a battle between…