Volume 11 Issue 58 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020

ITL Special Edition: Election 2020

 Biden Easily defeats Trump in New Jersey: As expected, former Vice President won all 14 of New Jersey’s Electoral College votes by beating President Trump by a very commanding 57%- 41% margin of victory.

While the official tally is still being counted, as of 9AM on Tuesday, some 4.37 million mail-in ballots had been received by counties, according to the New Jersey Division of Elections. That represents about 72% of the 6.05 million ballots automatically sent to all active, registered voters in the state after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law to conduct this year’s general election primarily using mail-in ballots because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of ballots already cast this year is a record high for New Jersey -- almost 69% of registered voters, which is a greater proportion than the turnout in either 2012 or 2016.

In response to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order and his subsequent signing of legislation requiring a vote-by-mail general election this year, several GOP legislators have introduced a measure to be put on the ballot for voter approval that would prohibit the governor and legislature from limiting or denying in-person voting in the future. The Republican plan would also prohibit the automatic distribution of mail-in ballots to all voters. 

Constitutional Amendment to Legalize Marijuana Passes: New Jersey voters overwhelmingly voted to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana in New Jersey by a 67%-33% margin. Shortly after Election Day, enabling legislation was introduced and passed out of committee. This enabling legislation, the “Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act,” would create the framework needed for the state to regulate a new legal cannabis industry.

Senator Cory Booker Cruises to Reelection: Cory Booker heads back to the US Senate for a second full-term after he successfully defended his seat against Republican challenger Rik Mehta in last Tuesday’s election. Booker defeated Mehta 57% to 41%.

Booker has served in the U.S. Senate since 2013 when the junior New Jersey senator won the seat in special election following the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Booker was re-elected to his first full-term in 2014.

New Jersey Congressional Delegation Stays Intact: New Jersey's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives remains split between 10 Democrats and two Republicans as all of New Jersey congressional representatives were re-elected last week. Longtime incumbents such as House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Representative Bill Pascrell who serves on the Ways & Means Committee and others were easily re-elected.

Here is a breakdown of those in Representatives in the more competitive districts:

District 2: In the closest congressional race in the state, Republican incumbent Jeff Van Drew successfully fended off a challenge from Democrat Amy Kennedy, a former teacher and South Jersey native. This race garnered national attention as Van Drew notably switched parties to become a Republican and endorsed President Trump prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

District 3: Freshman Democratic incumbent Andy Kim, who worked at the Pentagon and in other federal positions, won a tough reelection challenge from Republican David Richter, a former construction CEO.

District 7: Freshman Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski, who worked in the Obama administration, won to keep his seat from Tom Kean Jr., the Republican leader in the state Senate and son of the former GOP governor. This was Kean’s third attempt to secure a federal office.

District 11Freshman Democrat Mikie Sherrill kept her seat after winning the Republican stronghold as part of the 2018 blue wave. Sherrill, an attorney and former combat helicopter pilot, was challenged by Republican Rosemary Becchi, a tax-policy lawyer and consultant.

Ballot Question on Redistricting Passes:  Voters approved a ballot question to reschedule the State’s legislative redistricting process to 2023 if federal census data is not available within the same time frame as it is customarily received every decade.  The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process that federal government relied on to collect the data, which in turn has delayed the delivery that data to the State.

Redistricting is the process that determines how the State’s 40 legislative districts are apportioned and is a primary factor as to which political party will have a majority in the Senate and Assembly.

Under the voter-approved amendment, the commission would delay the creation of the new districts if the Governor receives the federal census data after February 15, 2021. The current legislative district maps will be kept in place for an additional two-year term until the 2023 elections.