On Tuesday, New Jerseyans cast their votes for a new Governor and all 120 seats in the State Legislature. Phil Murphy (D) beat Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno (R) by a margin of 55%/43%. Murphy will be sworn in as Governor in January along with his running-mate Shelia Oliver, who will be sworn in as Lt. Governor and will serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.
Regarding the legislative elections, after an extremely contentious election season, which saw spending records shattered in Districts 2, 3 and 11, there were few surprises on Election Night.
In the Atlantic City based District 2, Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown successfully defeated Colin Bell, who was recently sworn in to replace the late Senator Jim Whelan. Incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo was also elected along with running mate John Armato.
In one of the most expensive legislative elections in American history, Senate President Stephen Sweeney rattled off an 18 point victory over Republican Fran Granier who was primarily funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The NJEA spent more than $8 million in their attempt to defeat the Senate President, but they failed.
In perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, Republican Senator Jen Beck was defeated by challenger Vin Gopal by a healthy margin of 6% (about 3,600 votes). This race had become brutal over the final few weeks and while most people agreed that the race could go either way, very few people expected either candidate to win by such a margin.
In the 16th District, where the retirement of Jack Ciattarelli to run in the Republican Primary for Governor this spring left a vacant seat, Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker was able to carry his running mate Roy Frieman with him to a 2,000 vote win. This is a substantial increase from 2 years ago, when then-candidate Zwicker first won by fewer than 80 votes. Republican Senator Kip Bateman was reelected here as well, though he only stayed 600 votes clear of opponent Laurie Poppe.
In the end, the make-up of the Legislature will not change much come January. After netting 1 Senate seat and 2 Assembly seats, the Democrats will return with a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 56-24 majority in the General Assembly. On Thursday, Steve Sweeney was re-elected as Senate President. There will, however be a change in leadership in the Assembly where and Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (LD-19) is expected to be elected as Speaker on Monday.