U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-Newark) and Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) said the state should follow the advice of health officials when deciding whether to hold its June primaries entirely through mail-in ballots.
“As far as primaries are concerned, it’s not an immediate concern of mine,” Booker said Thursday. “I know the governor is thinking hard about this. We should follow the advice of medical professionals. Our elections should continue.”
Menendez said he shared the junior senator’s sentiments.
Gov. Phil Murphy has so far demurred on the June races, which include primaries for all 12 of New Jersey’s House seats and Booker’s position in the Senate.
Though the senator has halted his campaigning and fundraising activities amid the COVID-19 crisis, he faces a primary challenge from Larry Hamm, who chairs U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) New Jersey presidential campaign.
Murphy has already delayed votes originally set to take place in March and April. Those will now be held on May 12, the same day a handful of municipalities will hold non-partisan races for local office.
Those elections will be conducted entirely through VBMs.
The senators’ comments came during a press conference on the first wave of federal aid from a $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.
That bill includes $400 million to aid states in upcoming elections, though it’s not clear how much of that money New Jersey will receive.
“If we have to shift to mail-in ballots, the state should get more and more resources,” Booker said. “Elections are essential.”
While Booker largely left decisions about what should be done with the June races to others, he made his stance on the general election plain.
“The election should go on in November,” he said. “During the civil war, we had presidential elections. During the pandemic of 1918, we had an election in this country.”