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State Sen. Michael Testa. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Testa, McClellan, Simonsen win in the 1st district

By Joey Fox, November 02 2021 10:38 pm

The New Jersey Globe is projecting that State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland), Assemblyman Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City), and Assemblyman Erik Simonsen (R-Lower) have won re-election to the 1st legislative district.

Testa defeated former parole board hearing officer Yolanda Garcia Balicki for the Senate, while McClellan and Simonsen beat out physical education teacher John Capizola and former Department of Human Services official Julia Hankerson, the latter of whom joined the Democratic ticket after a previous candidate unexpectedly dropped out.

Democrats once held the 1st district for more than a district on the coattails of former Democratic State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), who commanded huge levels of crossover support. But the political winds began to shift when Van Drew left the legislature for Congress in 2019, and all three Democratic incumbents lost in that year’s legislative elections.

This year, in a district that Donald Trump won twice, Democrats didn’t mount nearly as much of a strong challenge to the now-incumbent Republicans, focusing their fundraising and attention on other districts around the state.

Assuming they continue to win re-election, two of the three 1st district legislators are potentially on a path to great prominence: McClellan, the only Black Republican in the legislature, was on the shortlist for Jack Ciattarelli’s lieutenant governor, while Testa has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate in future years.

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