Here’s the final lineup of N.J. congressional candidates

By David WildsteinApril 10 2020

New Jersey Globe

Members of the New Jersey congressional delegation in the 116th Congress in Washington in 2019, left to right: Donald Norcross, Jeff Van Drew, Frank Pallone, Mikie Sherrill, Tom Malinowski, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Andy Kim and Donald Payne. Missing: Josh Gottheimer

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With petition challenges and ballot drawings over, 28 Democrats and 20 Republicans will seek New Jersey’s 12 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the July 7 primary election:

1st district: Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and his Republican opponent, former Collingswood school board member Claire Gustafson, have no primary opposition.  Norcross won a 2014 special election after Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Bellmawr) resigned.

2nd district: Elected as a Democrat in 2018, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) switched to the Republican Party last December after refusing to vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Van Drew has the organization line in eight counties against one Republican primary opponent, former Trump administration official Robert Patterson.

Five Democrats are competing for the chance to take on Van Drew in November: political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison, former public school teacher Amy Kennedy, former congressional aide Will Cunningham, West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III, and retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage.

Harrison has the organization endorsements in Cape May, Cumberland, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties.  Kennedy has the line in Atlantic, which makes up a little more than 40% of the primary vote, and Ocean has an open primary.

Van Drew flipped the open seat of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor, who retired after 24 years in Congress.

3rd district: Freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton), who narrowly unseated two-term Rep. Thomas MacArthur (R-Toms River) in 2018, will face the winner of sharply divided Republican primary between former Burlington County freeholder director Kate Gibbs and former Hill International CEO David Richter.

Gibbs appeared to have secured party support to take on Kim until Richter dropped his primary challenge to Van Drew in the 1st district and moved to the 3rd to challenge Kim.  She has the organization line in Burlington.

Richter has the organization line in Ocean, the slightly bigger half of the GOP primary voters.  Gibbs had won a screening committee vote, but Richter upset her at the convention after receiving help behind the scenes from former GOP county chairman George Gilmore.

Three other Republican candidates are no longer in the race: Barnegat mayor John Novak withdrew this week and endorsed Richter, and former Hainesport mayor Tony Porto ended his campaign last month.  David Schmidt, who filed and then was unable to say why he was running, wound up being tossed from the ballot for not having enough signatures.

4th district: If Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) wins re-election to a 21st term in 2020, he’ll set the report for the longest serving congressman in New Jersey history.  He represents the only district in New Jersey with more registered Republicans than Democrats.

Three Democrats are looking or the chance to stop Smith from setting the record: former journalist David Applefield, former United Nations staffer Christine Conforti, and former U.S. Department of State official Stephanie Schmid.

Schmid has the organization lines in Monmouth and Ocean counties.  She is sharing the line in Mercer with Conforti, who won the convention.

Smith’s has a GOP primary opponent, Alter Eliezer Richter.

5th district: Two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), the Human Fundraising Machine, faces a primary challenge from the left against Glen Rock councilwoman Arati Kreibich.

There are four Republicans competing for the chance to take on Gottheimer.  That’s down from a field that at one point numbered ten, and now the race for the GOP nomination is really between former Cresskill councilman John McCann and investment banker Frank Pallotta.

McCann, who won 42% against Gottheimer in 2018, has the organization line in Bergen County.  Bergen made up 56% of the primary vote two years ago.  Pallotta has the line in Passaic and the support of the Sussex GOP.

Also in the race: teacher James Baldini and perennial candidate Hector Castillo.

6th district: Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch), the chairman of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, faces to primary challengers from the left – attorney Russ Cirincione and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, ranked by CNN as one of the 25 most influential Muslims Americans in the U.S.

Cirincione tried to get Al-Khatahtbeh tossed from the ballot, but backed down after his lawyer’s attempt to invalidate petition signatures from Rutgers students angered some of his progressive supporters.

Republicans won’t have a candidate unless they mount a write-in campaign.  Christian Onuoha, who had the backing of the Monmouth and Middlesex organizations, and Sammy Gindi were both disqualified for not having enough signatures.

7th district:  Freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) is unopposed in his bid for re-election to a second term.  He is expected to face Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), the minority leader of the New Jersey Senate.

Kean faces two minor candidates in the Republican primary: Tom Phillips and Raafat Barsoom.  Another candidate who announced and competed at some county conventions Summit businessman Rob Trugman, never filed his petitions.

8th district: Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York), a former Assembly Speaker elected to Congress in 2006, faces two Democratic primary challengers: Hector Oseguera and Will Sheehan.

The winner will face Jason Todd Mushnick, a Republican lawyer from Jersey City.

9th district: Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson), seeking re-election to a 13th term in Congress, faces two primary opponents from the left: Zina Spezakis, a green energy investor, and attorney Alp Basaran.

Two Republicans are facing off for the chance to run in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 31 points in 2016: retired Air Force officer Billy Prempeh and Bergen County Young Republican vice chairman Tim Walsh.  Prempeh has the GOP line in Bergen and Passaic counties.

10th district: Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark), who won a special election to fill his late father’s seat in 2012, faces primary opposition from Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo and Jersey City public school teacher John Flora.

Jennifer Zinone, a freelance copywriter from Bayonne, winds up unopposed in the Republican primary after the organization candidate, Michael Barrett, didn’t get enough signatures on his nominating petition.

Clinton won the 10th by 72 points four year ago; just eleven other congressional districts nationally performed better for the Democratic presidential candidate.

11th district: There are no contested primaries in a district that was represented by a Republican for 34 years until Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) flipped the seat in 2018.  Sherrill’s primary opponent, Morris County College professor Mark Washburne, dropped out of the race.

Republican Rosemary Becchi, a former U.S. Senate Finance Committee tax counsel, is also running unopposed.  The GOP cleared the field for her when she switched from a primary challenge to Kean in the 7th to the 11th district race against Sherrill.

12th district: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) is seeking re-election to fourth term with organization lines in Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties.

She faces a primary challenge from perennial candidate Lisa McCormick, now a resident of Lambertville.

Old Bridge councilman mark Razzoli is unopposed for the Republican nomination.  Razzoli switched parties after losing a 2019 Democratic mayoral primary.

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