COLTS NECK, N.J. – Bob Menendez isn’t the only New Jersey Democrat who under-performed expectations on Tuesday.
Notwithstanding superior resources and the unanimous support of his party establishment, Josh Welle garnered a relatively modest 57% of the NJ-04 primary vote against opponent Jim Keady (43%), signaling that the Democrat congressional hopeful enters the General Election without a strong base of support with which to topple veteran Congressman Chris Smith.
“My enthusiasm for the job has only increased over the years along with my experience and
know-how in getting things done,’ Smith, dean of the N.J. delegation and one of the House’s longest serving members, declared Wednesday on the morning after his walking victory.
Recent history provides some legitimacy to Smith’s enthusiasm.
He won with 68% of the vote in 2014, the last non-presidential congressional election.
In 2016, Smith got by just fine with a 100,000 margin.
Clinton lost the district in 2016 with just 41% of the vote versus Trump.
In 2017? Murphy posted a 1-point improvement at 42% of the vote in the Cook PVI R+8 district despite his landslide statewide victory against Kim Guadagno.
“Blue wave” or weak fizzle, math is math and Welle will need more than lukewarm support from Democrats to overcome Smith this fall.