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Rep. Donald Norcross. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Norcross wins re-election in 1st congressional district

Camden congressman beats Republican Claire Gustafson

By Joey Fox, November 08 2022 9:15 pm

The New Jersey Globe projects that Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) has won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Claire Gustafson in the 1st congressional district.

As of 10:09 p.m. and with an estimated 64% of votes reported, Norcross leads Gustafson by a 64%-34% margin, though that may change substantially as more votes come in.

Norcross, the brother of South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, was first elected in 2014, succeeding Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights). Before becoming a congressman, Norcross was a state legislator and union leader.

Anchored in deep-blue Camden and Cherry Hill, the 1st congressional district is the most Democratic district in South Jersey, and it was left largely unchanged on the state’s new congressional map. Joe Biden would have won the district by 24 points in 2020; even Gov. Phil Murphy, who collapsed elsewhere in South Jersey, carried it by 14 last year.

Few Republicans seriously believed they could come close to unseating Norcross, whose closest race was his first, an 18-point win against former NFL linebacker Garry Cobb in 2014.

But with a relatively unpopular Democratic president in the White House, Gustafson – a former school board member who lost to Norcross 63%-37% in 2020 – hoped to narrow the gap somewhat.

Both Norcross and Gustafson had to get past minor primary challengers in order to reach the general election: Norcross crushed teacher Mario DeSantis 78%-22%, while Gustafson beat carpenter Damon Galdo 68%-32%.

In July, Republicans released an internal poll showing Norcross up by just five points, and Norcross felt pressured enough to spend $2.8 million, some of it on ads attacking Gustafson. Still, Gustafson never raised much money of her own, and outside groups completely ignored the district, focusing instead on more competitive territory to the north.

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