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Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Pallone fends of progressive primary challengers

By Nikita Biryukov, July 07 2020 9:01 pm

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) on Thursday fended off two primary challengers from young insurgents Tuesday, all but guaranteeing himself another term.

Pallone, who has held the district’s seat since first winning it in a 1988 special election, was challenged by progressive Russ Cirincione and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. Both challengers believed Pallone, a senior House Democrat with the ear of the chamber’s leadership, wasn’t far enough to the left.

The incumbent got 85% of the vote, while Cirincione got 13% and Al-Khatahtbeh got 2%.

But the incumbent had the support of the district’s Democratic organizations, and unlike the upstarts, he had money to burn.

By June 17, Pallone had raised more than $2.2 million for his re-election bid. He was sitting on a war chest of more than $2.9 million.

Al-Khatahtbeh, meanwhile, had raised just under $19,000 by the same point and spent nearly half that money. Cirincione’s fundraising fared slightly better.

The progressive raised $56,763.01 but still went into the race’s final weeks with a major cash deficit, having just $16,486.23 on hand.

Cirincione bracketed with candidates running under the “Not Me. Us” slate to gain a ballot advantage that kept him out of ballot Siberia, where Al-Khatahtbeh landed after launching her surprise candidacy without amassing a slate of allies.

Pallone’s Republican opponent likely won’t be known for days. Sammy Gindi and Christian Onuoha are vying for to be the GOP nominee.

Vote tallies do not include uncounted mail-in ballots received by Tuesday, late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday, provisional ballots that won’t be counted for at least a week and mail-in ballots that were disqualified but may be cured at a later date.

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