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State Sen. Vin Gopal (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Gopal feels good about LD11 Assembly race

Senator doesn’t expect Murphy approvals to drag at Houghtaling, Downey

By Nikita Biryukov, September 23 2019 4:40 pm

State Sen. Vin Gopal feels good about his Assembly running mates’ chances of winning re-election this year.

“We feel good about making sure they get re-elected. I’m working very hard. I’m knocking on a lot of doors for them, we’re raising a lot of money. I’m personally maxing out to both of them,” the former Monmouth County Democratic chairman said. “I think, at the end of the day, Democrats are going to do well in Monmouth County and across the state this November.”

Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling face Freehold Township Board of Education President Michael Amoroso and former Hugin for Senate staffer Matthew Woolley in their bid for a third term in the legislature’s chamber.

Historically, the 11th legislative district has leaned Republican, as has the whole of Monmouth County, but Houghtaling and Downey bucked that trend when they narrowly ousted Republican incumbents in 2015.

That year, the two Democrats each won by less than one point. In 2017, they defeated Republican challengers by about five points.

The same year, Gopal scored a seven-point victory over State Sen. Jennifer Beck, who won re-election by 21 points in 2013.

It’s possible that Gov. Phil Murphy’s lackluster approval ratings — a Monmouth University poll released last week said voters gave Murphy a roughly-even approval rating of 41%-38% — would make the race in the 11th a more difficult one for Democrats, but Gopal said the poll didn’t worry him.

“I think it’s one poll. It’s still early,” the senator said, adding that he didn’t think Murphy’s tenure would have much of an impact on the district’s race.

“I think people are evaluating the candidates based on what they’ve done,” he said.

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