Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Race of the Day- New Jersey U.S. Senate

New Jersey U.S. Senate

69 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Suffice to say, this is not the campaign homestretch that Senator Cory Booker was hoping for. Having long been talked about as a rising star among Democrats, the former Newark Mayor embarked upon a campaign for President with high expectations. As was the case with many others in the very crowded field, it did not work out and Booker was out of the race before the first contest. While he joined several other former candidates in endorsing Joe Biden for the nomination, not being a female of course precluded the possibility that Booker might be on the ticket. At least he had his fairly safe U.S. Senate seat as a fallback. Truth be told, he would probably still be on his state's ballot seeking reelection even if he were the Presidential nominee of Democrat. It is worth noting briefly that in the July New Jersey Senate primary, a liberal activist, who is also an African-American, took 12 percent of the vote. Booker has always seemed to have some enemies among Democrats in New Jersey.

Nowadays, without any logical reason, Donald Trump has taken to saying that Booker would in a theoretical Biden Administration be in charge of "destroying the suburbs" or something like that. It is unclear what executive branch position might be in line to do that. This seems to even go beyond racially charged dog whistles. In desperation mode, Trump seems to want to use a well-known African-American political figure as a scare tactic against "suburban housewives." The boyfriend of actress Rosario Dawson probably has a lot of those suburban housewives liking his politics though.

There look to be some seriously competitive Congressional general elections in New Jersey this year, where Democrats took traditionally Republican seats in the 2018 midterms (and in one case, one of those Democrats who had endorsed Booker for President, made a sudden switch to being a pro-Trump Republican Congressman), but the Senate race is likely not going to get much attention.

There was a five-way Republican primary, but nobody who had ever won political office entered. The third place finisher with 18 percent of the vote was Tricia Flanagan, a healthcare consultant, who had run for the Senate two years earlier as a pro-Trump Independent. The top two finishers though were both Indian-Americans, in a state where that demographic is growing in political power.

One was from South Jersey and had the endorsements of those GOP county organizations, while the victor was from North Jersey and had those counties plus some in the central part of the state behind him. While I cannot independently confirm their religious beliefs, it also appears that the candidate from a Hindu background beat the one with a Sikh background.

The end result was fairly close, as Rik Mehta defeated Hirsh Singh, 38-36. Both men are relatively young and likely to seek office again. Singh, an engineer, had already had races for Governor and Congress under his belt.

Mehta's background sounds very impressive. He has a doctorate in Pharmacy (if that is even what it is called) as well as being an attorney. He formerly worked for the United States Food and Drug Administration before starting his own healthcare consulting firm. Mehta also created two other companies related to the whole high tech healthcare realm.

As for this race, the Garden State is pretty solidly Democrat at the state level these days. Chris Christie, the former GOP Governor and one time party darling, did much to sour the voters on the brand, as other candidates down the ballot hope to recover. There is virtually no chance for a finally outgunned conservative like Mehta against Booker this cycle, as the incumbent, who first won a 2013 special election, seeks a second full term. Booker likely will continue to have higher political ambitions, while someone like Mehta, might also have a future seeking something lower.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

11 D (5 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup) 
12 R (3 Safe, 4 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

46 Democrats (35 holdovers, 5 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)
42 Republicans (30 holdovers, 3 Safe, 4 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)


Post a Comment

<< Home