By Jay Cook |
There were few surprises for politicians running in Monmouth County primary elections Tuesday. But despite lower turnout at the polls overall, more Democratic Party voters cast ballots in Republican Party-governed towns than last year.
County-supported candidates in the federal races for U.S. senator and the two congressional districts comprising the Two River area all won by handsome margins. Candidates on the county level for the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders did not face primary challenges, although incumbent Freeholder John P. Curley will be running as an Independent after losing Republican Party support earlier this year.
There was also only one contested primary in the 13 Two River area towns. In Atlantic Highlands, Republican voters backed candidates new to the political realm. See the results.
The Federal Races
One of the more contested primaries across New Jersey took place locally as Democrats Joshua Welle and Jim Keady squared off for the chance to challenge Rep. Chris Smith, the 19-term Republican incumbent, for the U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District seat.
Welle, a U.S. Navy veteran and former founder of a tech company, earned support from the Monmouth County Democrats, winning 57.68 percent or 10,941 of the 18,970 votes cast. Keady, a former Asbury Park councilman, won 42.23 percent of the votes.
After voting with his wife at Forrestdale School in Rumson, Welle said in a statement he’s “prepared to carry the Democratic flag in the general election.”
He continued, “America needs a new generation of leaders with fresh ideas to fix a broken Washington. I’m committed to making Central Jersey the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
But that will be no easy task. Smith, 64, was first elected to the district in 1980 and has won his recent elections by sizable margins. During the last midterm election in 2014, Smith won with 68 percent of the vote, followed by a win in 2016 by a 100,000-vote margin.
“I will run on my record of providing constituent services that are second to none and for authoring numerous laws that make a positive difference,” Smith said in a statement on election night. “My staff and I are problem solvers. We have left – and will leave – no stone unturned in the pursuit of just and equitable solutions for tens of thousands of people wronged by a bureaucratic decision or mistake or misapplication of law.”
Smith is seeking his 20th two-year term in the House of Representatives. During his tenure he has co-founded a number of different bipartisan congressional caucuses on subjects like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Lyme disease and human trafficking.
“My enthusiasm for the job has only increased over the years along with my experience and know-how in getting things done,” Smith said.
In the 6th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat, staved off a primary challenge from Javahn Walker by winning an over whelming 87.77 percent of the vote. Pallone was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1988 and has been a steady presence in Washington.
Pallone will face off against Republican Richard J. Pezzullo, who faced no primary challenger this week, in November’s general election.
In the race for his federal senate seat, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was victorious in Monmouth County despite winning by only 3,639 votes over Lisa A. McCormick. Menendez is running for U.S. Senate after he was indicted on corruption charges last year. The case ended in a mistrial earlier this year.
Republican businessman and former U.S. Marine Bob Hugin had a compelling victory in the GOP primary to face off against Menendez. Monmouth County Republicans supported Hugin with 85.52 percent of the vote over his challenger Brian D. Goldberg.
Quiet Yet Interesting Municipal Races
Atlantic Highlands Republicans pushed four candidates forward to challenge in this year’s primary and the pair running as “Regular Republican” came out victorious.
Brian Boms and James Murphy carried the GOP primary by winning 65 percent of the Republican support against candidates Richard Colangelo and Penelope Morris, who ran with the Monmouth County Republican Organization. A total of 660 Republican voters cast votes on Tuesday.
Boms and Murphy will take on a pair of entrenched Democrats, Councilmen Charles Lero and Roy Dellosso, in November. The general election in Atlantic Highlands may prove to be interesting considering the recent pushback from residents regarding development on First Avenue and an ever-growing parking problem in the downtown.
Voter turnout in primaries across Monmouth County was down this year (10.9 percent) compared to last year’s primary election (11.8 percent), but polling numbers show Democrats in the Two River area were active. Democrats outpolled Republicans in four GOP-controlled towns: Fair Haven, Little Silver, Middletown and Shrewsbury. Republicans, on the other hand, out-polled Democrats in Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck, Holmdel, Oceanport and Rumson. Democrats retained strongholds in towns like Red Bank, where they had a 4:1 ratio compared to the GOP turnout for the borough council contest.
This article was first published in the June 7-14, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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