In case you missed it, we described the state of the LD3 State Senate race — Steve Sweeney (D) v. Fran Greiner (R) — as follows one month ago in our 9/28/17 Save Jersey legislative race ratings:
Little known fact: Steve Sweeney has never recorded 60% or greater of the vote in a State Senate election. More interesting facts: Sweeney is being barraged by the NJEA this year. The semi-competitiveness of the district, the barrage of NJEA money going AGAINST the Democrat, and the strong campaign of Salem GOP Chair Fran Greiner have made Sweeney sweat a little more than usual. The popular union strong man and titular leader of the South Jersey Democrats still may sneak by, but it looks like he may be going ten rounds. Did we mention that this district is one of only two Democrat districts in New Jersey carried by Trump?
The bottom line: the 3rd Legislative District is competitive but never truly targeted due to Senate President Sweeney’s power and money, both of which are fueled by his labor union muscle and South Jersey Democrat Machine network.
Maybe this year will be different after all?
There’s a new (disclaimer: Republican-affiliated) polling memo out today, Save Jerseyans, and Sweeney is only up 6-points (42% to Grenier’s 36%) with less than three weeks to go. Sweeney’s lead was as large as 18-points (48% to 30%) back in September according to the same pollster.
“With three weeks until the general election, the four-term senator could be in trouble if Grenier maintains his momentum and swings undecided voters,” reads the report commissioned by senate. The survey was executed by the national
research and communication firm Cygnal and commissioned by the Senate Republican Majority. “Look for this race to come down to the wire. We may soon be referring to Sweeney as the ‘former Senate president’ in a few weeks.”
Click here to read the full report.
It didn’t happen by accident if “it” (a historic upset) is indeed in the offing. LD3 is on track to be the most expensive race in N.J. legislative history and Sweeney’s allies and the disillusioned NJEA clobber one another in an internal Democrat coalition battle that has spilled out into the open and turned the rural district’s typically sleepy contest into a full-scale, Vietnam-level proxy war to end all wars.
Notably? According to recently filed ELEC disclosures? The machine-affiliated General Majority PAC closed out the last quarter with only $160,000 on hand and Sweeney’s own PAC closed out with $66,000. The well is running dry, an unusual problem for the powerful pol and his team.
We’re not ready to change our race ratings quite yet. It is fair to say we’re watching with renewed interest.