Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa defeated State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak, ousting State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak.
Testa’s running mates, Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan and Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen, defeated incumbent Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matt Milam.
Testa ran 3,527 votes ahead of Andrzjczak, beating the incumbent 53.5%-46.5%.
With 26,544 votes, Simonsen was the top vote-getter, followed by McClellan, who received 25,521. Land trails McClellan by 2,423 votes, and Milam is 543 votes behind his running mate.
The race in the second was marked by candidates’ similarities more than it was by their differences.
Andrzejczak and his running mates, running for the first time without Rep. Jeff Van Drew to buoy their chances in the right-leaning district, toed the line so closely that it was, at times, difficult to tell which slate of candidates belonged to the Republican party.
Andrzejczak and Testa were in agreement over opposition to a directive limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Similarly, they both opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana and backed repealing taxes affecting the mostly working-class district.
Andrzejczak even declined to rule out voting for President Donald Trump in 2020.
Trump is more popular than Murphy in the district, and Testa was appointed to be an honorary state chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign in October.
The senator’s move agitated some of the state’s progressive Democrats and spurred one, 28-year-old for Army Reservist and Sanders supporter Jeremiah Schenerman, to mount a write-in campaign meant to siphon votes from Andrzejczak’s re-election bid.
For his party, Testa focused many of his attacks against Gov. Phil Murphy and a South Jersey super PAC backing Andrzecjzak.
Murphy is less popular in the district than Trump, according to a Stockton University poll released last month.
Despite their agreement over the issue, the GOP chair launched numerous proxy attacks at Andrzejczak over Grewal’s directive.
Though spending there lagged behind the same in the 21st district for a time, the contest in the 1st district became the most expensive in the state, with more than $2.5 million spent between candidates and independent expenditure groups by the last week of October.
General Majority, a super PAC with ties to South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross, played heavily in the district, fielding numerous, often vicious, mailers against the Republican candidates.
The district’s Assembly races largely took a back seat to the contest for the remainder of Van Drew’s unexpired term.
Still, the dynamic there was similar to the one in the Senate contest.
Though all three Republicans attacked their Democratic opponents over General Majority’s involvement in the race, McClellan put more of his focus to the issues, claiming the PAC darkened his face in a campaign mailer.
Democrats’ campaign played heavily on their candidates military service records.
Andrzejczak lost his left leg during his second tour in Iraq, and Land earned two bronze stars for his time as an Army sergeant.
Many of Andrzecjzak’s mailers and television ads prominently featured his prosthetic leg, and one particularly effective ad implied Testa was questioning Andrzejczak’s military service record, though the chairman never did.