ELECTION 2017: Underdog N.J. Senate GOP wins the first week of 2017

ELECTION 2017: Underdog N.J. Senate GOP wins the first week of 2017


There’s no road ahead for New Jersey Republicans in 2017 that doesn’t run through a tilted legislative map, mega-rich gubernatorial candidate and unfriendly super pacs.

One bit of good news for the beleaguered Republican resistance?

There isn’t a ‘none of the above’ box on the ballot. Democrats need candidates to further solidify their 24-16 grip on the State Senate, and thus far they’re not off to a particularly strong start, Save Jerseyans.

Check out this week’s Election 2017 news bites:

Whelan (left) huddles with Democrat powerbroker George Norcross.

(1) Jim Whelan isn’t running for reelection in LD2, something we found out Tuesday, removing the popular Democrat incumbent from GOP Assemblyman Chris Brown’s path to the traditionally Republican State Senate seat. Democrat Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo is likely to throw his hat in the ring but Brown has out-fetched him before in the vote department. Whelan’s decision automatically pushes this race from “lean Dem” to toss-up.

(2) Andrew Zwicker, the freshman Democrat Assemblyman who was widely believed to be a top potential challenger for Republican State Senator Kip Bateman in LD16, raised eyebrows this week when he referred to his would-be GOP rival as an “institution.” “Kip is obviously an institution and he’s the number one-rated environmental legislator. So it would be an interesting challenge,” Zwicker told Politico. “I’m just getting started in my legislative career… It will take some extraordinary circumstances, I think, to take such a risk.” That’s not the kind of thing you say when you’re readying to launch a challenge. 

(3) Jennifer Beck could’ve drawn a much fiercer opponent in 2017 than Democrat Monmouth County Chairman Vin Gopal, the guy whose win-lost record is… staggering. The county party hasn’t made any significant progress under his leadership despite major outside help and, in his only run for office, Gopal was soundly defeated. There’s a little bit of the “he’s a nice kid” dynamic at work in Democrat power circles. Democrat leaders are also lining up behind him because it’s hard to tell a sitting chairman (albeit an unsuccessful one) that he can’t take a shot at a State Senate seat. You can bet these same leaders would’ve if they had someone better waiting in the wings. They don’t.

GOP Leader Tom Kean, Jr.

Yes – Democrat recruitment trouble.

You won’t hear thing angle anywhere else because this site has never concerned itself with making Democrats like us (for patently obvious reasons).

The state of things is more than a little strange on the surface for all the reasons set forth at the beginning of this post AND given the fact that Goldman Sachs gazillionaire Phil Murphy (a/k/a Corzine 2.0) is favored to win the governor’s mansion next year by virtue of the state’s blue-tint and Chris Christie’s deep unpopularity.

A few questions come to mind at this point: Is Phil Murphy Inc. putting any energy at all into down ballot allies’ efforts? Or ahead, rather than down, and just cutting checks? And did Senate President Steve Sweeney spend too much time running for governor? And not enough time minding his caucus’s electoral chess board?

TBD. For now, have a little faith that Republicans might be able to hold their own in the upper chamber this year. And if Phil Murphy bombs out as a candidate….

Stay tuned.