Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official Rik Mehta has won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and will take on Democrat Cory Booker in the general election.
Mehta leads Hirsh Singh by 12,532 votes, 39%-34%.
Tricia Flanagan finished third with 18%, followed by Natalie Rivera (5%) and Gene Anagnos (2%).
Votes are still being counted and these numbers are subject to change before they are certified around July 24.
Mehta is the first Asian American to win a statewide primary election.
The Booker vs. Mehta contest marks the first time both parties have nominated people of color to run against each other in a statewide election in New Jersey.
Mehta had organization lines or county party endorsements in 17 counties, but Singh nearly won the primary after scoring lopsided victories in the four South Jersey counties where he secured the organization line.
Singh leads in Ocean County by a massive 25,197 votes over Mehta, a 74%-10% margin. He took 77% in Atlantic, his home county, 72% in Cape May, and 63% in Cumberland. Those counties gave him a 39,259-vote plurality.
While Singh’s lines produced mammoth numbers for him, Mehta’s lines were far less dominating. His best counties were Monmouth and Union – 61% each – but he didn’t break 50% in 9 of the 17 counties where he had organizations support.
Passaic County was a disaster for Mehta. He had the organization line, but Passaic vote-by-mail ballots don’t have lines and Flanagan now has a 257-vote lead over Mehta; Singh is just 354 votes out of second place.
Now Mehta will face Booker – who won his primary with 89% of the vote — in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972. In the 48 years since Clifford Case won his fourth term, every state but Hawaii has elected a Republican.