Election 2011 – Legislative Races in New Jersey (State Senate)
New Jersey State Senate Composition – 24 D, 16 R
It has been an intense legislative session in New Jersey this year. At the helm stood Governor Chris Christie, a highly polarizing figure, and the season was capped by a momentous change in state policy regarding labor’s right to collective bargaining. a surprising turn in the traditionally union-friendly state. While the governor will not face voters for another couple of years, legislators do in 2011. Though normally legislators serve four year terms, the state requires all come up for election in the year after the completion of the decennial census and subsequent redistricting.
Republicans will be trying to narrow the margin that Democrats hold in the chamber. This may be difficult after a non-partisan commission redistricted the legislative districts in a way that many believe benefits Democrats.
There is no major party competition in 3 seats – Joseph Kyrillos (R) in district 13, Nicholas Scutari (D) in district 22, and Gerald Cardinale (R) in district 39
A breakdown of some of the competitive races – more will be added with reader requests
District 1 (D)
Jeff Van Drew is running for his second term in the Senate and is a former Mayor of Dennis and Assemblyman. As the New Jersey legislature is part time, he works as a dentist for his full-time job.
David DeWeese recently won the Republican primary and will be the challenger in November. A retired municipal court judge, the Wildwood attorney
District 2 (D)
Incumbent Jim Whelan was first elected in 2007 and is a famous name in Atlantic County. That is because he served as mayor of Atlantic City from 1990 to 2001 and also served a two-year term in the Assembly. By trade, he is a school teacher.
What makes this race so much fun are the two powerful names running against the incumbent. On the Republican side is Vincent Polistina, currently the Deputy Minority Leader in the Assembly, representing District 2. He runs an engineering firm.
Yet despite having a member of the Republican leadership running here, the name that has garnered a lot of attention is the independent candidate, Lorenzo Langford. He knows the incumbent well, having defeated him to become Mayor of Atlantic City in 2001. After losing in 2005, he was elected to a second term in 2009. Now he is trying to defeat Whelan again, this time for the State Senate seat, seemingly also because of the incumbent’s backing of his opponent in 2009.
District 8 (R)
Republican Dawn Addiego will be running for her first elected term in the Senate after being appointed to the seat last year. Previously, she had been elected to the State Assembly in 2007 and today continues to work for the animal adoption center that she helped found in southern New Jersey.
What has drawn people’s attention to this race however is the nine Olympic gold medals that adorn the mantle of the Democratic challenger – assuming he is even eligible to run. Carl Lewis, one of the most storied athletes in American history, has been campaigning despite challenges by Republicans that he does not meet residency standards. It is required that candidates live in New Jersey for four years prior to running for office and Lewis had houses in both California and in New Jersey. This remains to be resolved in the next month or so.
District 10 (R)
In one of the few open seats, Andrew Ciesla has decided not to run for reelection.
James Hozapfel is hoping to hop up the ladder from the Assembly, where he has represented district 10 since 1994. At least on paper, he is the heavy favorite as the district is in a fairly conservative part of the state.
Charles Tivenan will try to overcome these odds and defeat the man he lost to in 2009. He is an attorney in Brick.
District 11 (R)
Next door is also open after redistricting has caused a bit of musical chairs for Republicans.Incumbent Sean King will run in District 30 while current District 12 senator Jennifer Beck will run here. Her last race was relatively close and the hope is that this district will be easier to hold for the Republican. She is the president of a marketing company outside of her legislative duties.
Former Assistant Nassau County District Attorney Raymond Santiago is the Democratic hope for capturing the seat.
District 12 (R)
Since Beck moved next door, Republicans will be looking to Samuel Thompson, a 12-year member of the Assembly to hold onto the Senate seat. He started his career in the Lab Division of the State Department of Health, eventually serving as the Director of that division for over twenty years.
Democrats have selected Robert Brown, a former police officer and Assembly candidate in 2007 and 2009, both times running against his now Senate-race opponent, Thompson.
District 27 (D)
Not many men can put acting governor on their resume – and incumbent Richard Codey can jot it down twice. As Senate President, he has taken the helm when two previous governors left office early. This year will mark 30 years in the State Senate as he was first elected in 1982.
It may be a fantasy, but Republicans believe they have a shot at the normally easily-reelected Senate President. William Earnes is the choice of the party, having won the primary last month. He is a vocal member of the local Tea Party and an Air Force veteran.
District 35 (D)
Incumbent John Girgenti is not running for office and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou will try to keep the district Democratic. She has been in the assembly since 1997 where she is chair of the powerful Appropriations committee.
Republican Ken Pengitore is the former mayor of Haledon and is looking for a return to public office, hoping to bring the Republicans closer to a majority. He is a practicing accountant as well.
District 38 (D)
With his district no longer based around Cliffside Park, first-term senator Robert Gordon is no stranger to contentious votes or difficult races. As a stalwart supporter of the rights of unions, he made a name for himself in the Assembly, serving as Speaker in 2006 and is gunning for a second term.
Standing in his way is Republican John Driscoll Jr., the chairman of the Bergen County Freeholder board and a resident of Paramus.