The Midterms: New Jersey

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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Today, we visit my home state of New Jersey.  An unpopular incumbent Democratic Senator faces reelection and twelve House seats are up for grabs.  In that Senate race, Robert Menendez, faces Republican challenger Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive and millionaire.

Addressing that huge elephant in the room, Hugin has recently gone up with ads dredging up accusations not used with success in 2012 that Menendez solicited sex from underage females while visiting the Dominican Republic.  Menendez himself faced a corruption trial over payment for some of those trips involving a Florida doctor and Medicaid fraud.  That trial ended in a hung jury and federal prosecutors decided not to pursue another trial.

Menendez has responded with ads showing coverage from Fox News stating that the charges of solicitation against him were unfounded.  The following is a true story.

Someone with a tablet appeared at my front door and asked me if I was registered to vote and if not, he could assist.  I informed him I was a registered voter.  He then asked if he could count on my help in getting Menendez reelected.  When I asked him if he was referring to the same Bob Menendez who solicited sex from underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, he went on a two-minute speech about how those charges were spurious, unfounded and likely politically motivated.  When I told this gentleman that he apparently had Menendez mixed up with Brett Kavanaugh, he closed his laptop and briskly walked away.  The moral of the story: people still remember those accusations, whether true or not.

Of course, a plethora of liberal groups are running ads portraying Hugin as an evil executive who gouged patients on prices for life-saving drugs while he accumulated $150 million.  They claim that he is in the pocket of Big Pharma and that he will take away insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, a common Democratic campaign theme.  They have even invoked the specter of Martin Skreli in the ads.

New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.  But this may be a tough one for Menendez this year.  He enters the race with a terrible approval rating by most outlets.  Further, the most recent polling shows Hugin surging up and possibly within striking distance.  This would be a huge surprise if Hugin wins and one I am not willing to believe will happen.  Why?  Because this is New Jersey.

The current House delegation favors the Democrats 7-5.  But two open Republican-held seats have created a great opportunity for them to make that partisan advantage even larger, starting in my home district- the Second.  Long-serving GOP incumbent, Frank LoBiondo is retiring and the announcement took many by surprise.  This created an opportunity for state legislator Jeff Van Drew, who is VERY popular in the area, to enter the race for the Democrats and he is their candidate.  On the GOP side is lawyer Seth Grossman.  I know and have debated with Grossman on his radio show.  The man is a certifiable whack job.  Since Van Drew is going to win in a landslide, my vote means nothing and I will be voting third party here… just cannot pull that lever for Grossman.  Hence, this seat falls.  It does not help that the NRCC has even abandoned Grossman after derogatory audio regarding blacks and Muslims surfaced.  With anyone BUT Grossman, the GOP could have had a fighting chance.

The neighboring Third District is hard to describe.  It takes in some affluent, liberal suburbs of Philadelphia on the Jersey side of the Delaware River, but go two miles outside those towns and you may find some people proudly flying a Confederate flag.  Overall, it is more rural than suburban and that should favor GOP incumbent Tom MacArthur.

He has recently gone up with ads linking his Democratic opponent, former Defense official Andy Kim, to a company that promoted a book by convicted cop killer and progressive celebrity, Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Another commercial says Kim teamed up with radical Linda Sarsour.  Kim defends himself saying he founded a group called Rise Stronger which he dismisses as nothing more than an unorganized Facebook group.  Further, he claims an anonymous poster was the one who first supported Abu-Jamal.

Of course, the Democrats are attacking MacArthur over healthcare saying that he wrote the bill in Congress to repeal Obamacare.  That may not be a great line of attack since Obamacare is pretty unpopular in the state.  And MacArthur’s vote for Trump’s tax cuts and the fact that property tax deductions are capped will hurt the New Jersey economy is also a line of attack.  This writer believes that MacArthur is just popular enough that he will squeak over the finish line and be reelected.

In the Fifth District, Republicans could have had a chance here against Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer.  However, the NRCC has not shown much interest while the NDCC has waded in to defend Gottheimer.  It does not help matters much since his home had swastikas painted on it and the Chamber of Commerce has openly endorsed the Democrat.

Both the 11th and 7th Districts are rated +6 GOP by Cook and both are currently represented by Republicans.  Most attention from the national parties and outside groups has focused on the 7th District and targeting GOP incumbent Leonard Lance who is opposed by Tom Malinowski for the Democrats.  He is a former lobbyist for Human Rights Watch who has penned articles in favor of the scum kept at Gitmo and who fought to end enhanced interrogation techniques.  Arguing that such tactics violate American values, he has run commercials showing John McCain singing his praises on that front.

Overlooked is the Morristown-based 11th District where Republican Rodney Frehlinghuysen has decided to retire.  While Democrats are focusing on the 7th, this writer believes the more likely district to flip is the 11th.

Hence, I expect at least two Republican-held seats to flip to the Democratic side come 2019- definitely the Second and the 11th.  A possible third seat- the southern based 3rd District- would be a disaster.  Losing the 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 11th would be the Hindenburg plus the Titanic in terms of political losses.

At the end of this entry, the numbers stand as follows:

US Senate 45-37 Republican, US House 149-136 Democratic, and Governors 25-16 Republican.

Tomorrow: Illinois and Texas