4 p.m. today marked the official end of candidate filing for this year’s federal elections in New Jersey, with 63 candidates submitting petitions to compete for major party nominations in the state’s 12 congressional districts.
It’s possible that not all 63 will end up making the ballot, as petition challenges often end up disqualifying candidates who collected the bare minimum number of signatures. But for now, here’s where the field in every New Jersey district stands with two days to go until Election Day.
The 1st district
As expected, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) will face teacher Mario DeSantis in the Democratic primary. DeSantis has had a rough time fundraising and gaining endorsements thus far, leaving Norcross a prohibitive favorite for renomination.
Claire Gustafson, who was the nominee against Norcross in 2020, had the Republican primary to herself until the last minute, when she was joined by union carpenter Damon Galdo. Given Gustafson’s county party endorsements and previous runs for office, she will likely win the nomination once again. The district is heavily Democratic, however, and the winner of the Republican primary will still be an underdog against Norcross.
The 2nd district
Despite his recent history as a Democrat, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) didn’t draw much serious primary opposition for a third term. Two unheralded fellow Republicans, Sean Pignatelli and John Barker, ended up filing, while a third, Scott Hitchner, has evidently dropped his campaign.
The Democrat likeliest to take Van Drew on is civil rights lawyer Tim Alexander, who has the Democratic line in all six of the district’s counties. One off-the-line candidate, Carolyn Rush, also submitted petitions, while another, Rev. Curtis Green, did not file. Assuming he wins the Democratic nomination, Alexander still will face an uphill campaign against Van Drew in a Republican-leaning district.
The 3rd district
Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) did in fact draw a primary challenge from young newcomer Reuben Hendler, who has made little apparent headway against the congressman and who unsuccessfully sued to invalidate the results of the Mercer County Democratic convention last week.
But it’s the Republican primary that’s bound to be interesting, with party-endorsed businessman Bob Healey Jr. facing Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith. Despite making deeply unfortunate headlines last week after he was charged with a DUI, Smith still ended up filing; when he was 20, Smith was convicted of driving while drunk and killing a 19-year-old. Also running is realtor Nicholas Ferrara, but he’s unlikely to be a significant factor.
The 3rd district’s previous incarnation was among the nation’s most competitive, but the Democratic-drawn congressional map approved for the next decade shifted it drastically towards Democrats, and Kim will be the favorite no matter who he faces.
The 4th district
21-term Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) drew no fewer than five primary challengers in the heavily redrawn 4th district, which Smith had to move to after his previous hometown of Hamilton Township was drawn out. The most prominent is conservative podcaster Mike Crispi, with U.S. Army veteran Mike Blasi, retired FBI agent Steve Gray, and perennial candidates Tricia Flanagan and Robert Shapiro also in the running. A sixth prospective challenger, attorney David Burg, withdrew just today.
The Democratic primary in the strongly Republican district is looking far less eventful, with small businessman Matthew Jenkins being the only Democrat to file.
The 5th district
After frequently drawing ire from national progressives and fending off a serious primary challenger in 2020, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) escaped without any intra-party opposition this year.
On the Republican side, five candidates ended up filing, three of them with serious campaigns to back them up. Marine veteran and frontrunner Nick De Gregorio has the party line in Bergen County and is seemingly the choice of national Republicans; 2020 nominee Frank Pallotta has the support of Republicans in Passaic and Sussex Counties; and businessman Fred Schneiderman is banking on an ad blitz to boost his support.
Two other Republicans, Sab Skenderi and Richard Franolich, also submitted petitions despite having very little apparent campaign presence.
Like the 3rd district, the 5th district was drawn to be significantly more Democratic for the next decade, but some national prognosticators still see Gottheimer as potentially vulnerable.
The 6th district
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), the chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, won’t have any Democratic opposition this year in his bid for an 18th full term.
The Republican field to challenge him has largely coalesced behind Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley, who has the line in both Monmouth and Middlesex Counties. Also running in the solidly Democratic district are 2020 Republican Senate nominee Rik Mehta, former Republican National Committee staffer Tom Toomey, and 2021 Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Gregg Mele.
The 7th district
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) is vulnerable this year for a number of reasons – the Republican tilt of his redrawn district and the ongoing House Ethics Committee inquiry into his stock disclosures – but the Democratic primary won’t cause him much grief. His lone primary opponent is Roger Bacon, a perennial candidate and Trump supporter; another candidate who filed with the Federal Election Commission, Brandon Wienberg, didn’t submit petitions.
The Republican favorite is former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), who lost to Malinowski by one percentage point in 2020 and who has every county line on his side this year. But Kean was unable to scare off a veritable parade of challengers for the nomination: businessman John Henry Isemann, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin), 2021 gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo, Fredon Mayor John Flora, retired U.S. Navy officer Sterling Irwin Schwab, and licensed public works contractor Kevin Dorlon. (Businessman Robert Trugman was also running, but he seemingly dropped out and endorsed Kean.)
Of Kean’s six challengers, only Isemann, Peterson, and Rizzo have been running strong enough campaigns to truly compete – but with all three of them remaining in the race, their paths to the nomination are very narrow.
The 8th district
Within hours of the news that Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) wouldn’t seek re-election, Port Authority Commissioner Rob Menendez, the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, established himself as the favorite to succeed him in Congress.
Four other Democrats are waging off-the-line bids to deny Menendez the nomination: Amistad Commission member Ane Roseborough-Eberhard, healthcare startup director David Ocampo Grajales, former Chris Christie staffer Brian Varela, and election law professor Eugene Mazo.
One Republican, Marcos Arroyo, also filed to run, but he won’t stand much of a chance in the heavily urban and majority-Latino district.
The 9th district
The 9th district, which favors Democrats but not by a prohibitive margin, is the only district in the state with two uncontested primaries. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) didn’t draw any opposition, and neither did 2020 Republican nominee Billy Prempeh. One other Republican candidate, realtor Patrick Quinn, did not submit petitions.
The 10th district
The main contest in the 10th district will be between Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark) and Imani Oakley. Though Payne is a clear favorite and has pulled in almost every relevant endorsement, including from progressive figures like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Oakley is still running an active campaign and had a solid fundraising haul in the first quarter. Also running for the Democratic nomination is sociology professor Akil Khalfani, who has not garnered much traction.
Two Republicans, David Pinckney and Garth Stewart, are running; Pinckney has the support of the Essex GOP, but neither has a shot in the state’s most Democratic district.
The 11th district
Not only is Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) unchallenged in her bid for a third term, she’s also running in a district redrawn to favor Democrats by a significant margin.
That hasn’t deterred five Republicans from running anyways. The likeliest candidate to take on Sherrill is Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, who has the GOP line in Morris and Essex Counties; U.S. Army veteran Toby Anderson and former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot are also mounting active campaigns.
Three more Republicans dropped out after losing the Morris GOP line, but they were quickly replaced by two newcomers, Ruth McAndrew and Alex Halter.
The 12th district
The strongly Democratic 12th district won’t host much of an interesting primary this year. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) is uncontested, while Republican frontrunner Darius Mayfield will square off against underdog film producer Nick Catucci.