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The Democratic primary ballot in Camden County for the June 2021 primary election. (Photo: NJ Globe.)

2021 was the Year of the Line

Organization lines prevail in primary contests across the state

By David Wildstein, June 09 2021 4:30 am

Welcome to the Year of the Line, where the party organization-backed candidate in nearly every closely watched race in the state won their primary election on Tuesday – in most cases by massive pluralities.

Two incumbent assemblywomen – Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) and BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) – were ousted after losing party support from their home counties.

Organization lines held for incumbent lawmakers facing off the line challengers in 10 districts, with party-backed candidates for open seats in the 2nd, 16th and 37th districts cruising to landslide victories.

Jack Ciattarelli captured the Republican nomination for governor after winning endorsements from all 21 county GOP endorsements.  He is the first non-incumbent candidate to carry every county a contested Republican gubernatorial primary in more than 100 years.

Candidates backed by the county party machinery scored lopsided wins in Democratic mayoral primaries in Edison, Atlantic City, Camden, Morristown and Kearny.   A veteran Cranford Township Committeeman who lost party support for re-election, was defeated by a political newcomer who ran with party support.  So was an incumbent Rockaway Township councilman who tried to run against the newly-created organization line in Morris County.

In Collingswood, a slate of sixteen candidates for Democratic County Committee backed by the Camden Democratic machine easily ousted incumbents who has been part of a progressive insurgency two years ago after party leaders made the races a must-win.  In Fairview, the political power base of Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano, the Democratic line crushed a borough council challenger by a 6-1 margin.

Exceptions to the power of the line came in Republican primaries for mayor in Parsippany and township council in Toms River, and in the Democratic mayoral primary in Lambertville.

In Mercer County, an off-the-line candidate for Republican State Committeewoman and her incumbent challenger are in a race that is too close to call.  So are two incumbent members of the Dover Board of Aldermen who ran with organization support.

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