New Jersey, Virginia to Hold Statewide Primaries Tuesday
New Jersey and Virginia will both hold statewide primaries on June 8.
New Jersey will hold primaries for governor, state Senate, and state House. Virginia will hold Democratic primaries for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
In addition, both parties will hold primaries for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.
In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is running unopposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Despite this, he’s spent more this primary season in the Garden State than all of his potential GOP opponents have spent combined.
Murphy has spent $7.2 million so far, according to a report from the N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Five Republican candidates — including one who has since dropped out of the race — have spent $7.1 million in their effort to take on Murphy in the fall.
New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states electing a governor this year.
In 2017, Murphy defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, 56%-42%, to win his first term, and even without the outlay of cash, Murphy looks like an odds-on favorite to win a second term.
His approval ratings have gone up as a result of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and Democratic voter registration in the state now outnumbers Republicans by more than one million.
However, the wildcard factor in the race is President Donald Trump.
There are now four Republicans vying for the GOP nomination — Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh — and each has tried to find their way to electoral success in a party divided by degrees of loyalty to the former president.
Ciattarelli, who was a state assemblyman when Trump was first elected president, used to be one of his toughest critics, calling the former real estate developer and reality show star a “charlatan.”
Since then, he’s repeatedly said Trump’s policies worked for America and he even spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally promoting the false conspiracy theory that voter fraud put Democrat Joe Biden in the White House.
Hirsh Singh, meanwhile, refers to himself as “the conservative in the race” and the only GOP candidate who can unite the state’s Trump supporters as well as women, young people and minorities.
“I’m dedicated to making sure we make New Jersey great again,” he said during a recent radio appearance, adopting and localizing Trump’s well-known slogan.
He ran for governor in 2017. He ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020.
Phil Rizzo has reportedly promoted voter fraud conspiracy theories and said online that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot may have been staged. He’s adopted the “Make New Jersey Great Again” slogan.
And he tweeted a photo last month of himself with Trump at the former president’s Florida estate, positioning himself as a political upstart much the way Trump was.
“At Mar-a-Lago, I was reminded of what happens when the people rally behind a candidate that is up against a corrupt establishment,” Rizzo wrote.
The final candidate in the race, Brian Levine, is a former mayor of Franklin Township and a Somerset County freeholder.
He has said he supports some of the former president’s policies but is not a die-hard supporter.
In addition to the governor’s race, all 40 seats in the New Jersey State Senate and all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly are up for election in 2021.
In Virginia, five candidates are running in the Democratic primary for governor, six in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and two in the Democratic primary for attorney general.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the front-runner heading into Tuesday, with a Roanoke College poll published Friday showing nearly half of likely Democratic primary voters support him.
However, it also showed nearly a quarter of likely voters were still undecided in the campaign’s final days.
That’s good news for McAuliffe’s primary opponents, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter.
In Virginia, governors are barred from serving consecutive terms but can seek reelection in the following cycle, as evidenced by McAuliffe’s bid. Current Gov. Ralph Northam endorsed McAuliffe, his predecessor, in April.
Over 90,000 voters have already cast ballots in the election, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
During a recent interview, Carroll Foy said she’s unconcerned about what the poll numbers say.
“When a lot of people think about these elections, they assume that the person who has been elected will be elected again, and they talk about inevitability,” Carroll Foy said, referring to McAuliffe’s 2013 victory. “Inevitability only exists if we allow it.”
Glenn Youngkin defeated six candidates in the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention on May 8 to become that party’s gubernatorial nominee.
In addition, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election in 2021.
The cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach will also hold municipal election primaries.
Polls open at 6 a.m. on Tuesday in both states. Polls will close at 7 p.m. in Virginia, and at 8 p.m. in New Jersey.
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