The New Jersey Globe projects that investment banker Frank Pallotta has won the Republican primary in the 5th congressional district, defeating U.S. Marine veteran Nick De Gregorio in a closely watched contest to take on Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). As of 12:12 a.m., Pallotta had 50% of the vote to De Gregorio’s 46%.
Pallotta previously ran for the same district in 2020, easily winning the primary against a Bergen Republican-endorsed candidate, John McCann, before losing the general election to Gottheimer by seven points. This year, just as happened in 2020, Pallotta lost the Bergen County line while earning the support of Republican organizations in Passaic and Sussex Counties.
But importantly, De Gregorio, a newcomer to New Jersey politics, had several advantages that McCann did not. De Gregorio dramatically outraised Pallotta, who didn’t self-fund the way he did last cycle, and cemented himself as the choice of national Republicans. Geography also helped De Gregorio: due to redistricting, Bergen County now makes up around 62% of the 5th district’s Republican primary vote, up from 52% under the old district lines.
Nevertheless, Pallotta narrowly pulled out a victory thanks to strong vote margins in Passaic and Sussex Counties.
One Pallotta “supporter” who may have been pivotal in tonight’s result: Gottheimer himself. Sensing that Pallotta might be a weaker candidate in the general election, Gottheimer sent out mailers to Republican voters boosting Pallotta’s connections to Donald Trump and conservative policies.
With their preferred nominee falling short, national Republicans may focus their attention elsewhere this November, rather than taking on the Human Fundraising Machine in a Democratic-leaning district. But Pallotta has beaten the odds before, and in a potential Republican wave year, he could still give Gottheimer a run for his money.