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Former Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Morris went blue at the top, remained red in the middle

Biden win premier GOP county, leads by 12,747 votes

By David Wildstein, November 20 2020 11:39 am

While the official certification of election results are still a few hours away, it’s clear that Joe Biden won Morris County.

Biden leads Donald Trump by 12,747 votes countywide, 51% to 47%.  In 2016, Trump won it by 10,822 votes, 49% to 45%.

That makes Biden the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Morris since Lyndon Johnson did it in 1964.

Morris was so Republican during the 20th century that Herbert Hoover won it twice and Franklin Roosevelt lost it four times.

Woodrow Wilson, the Governor of New Jersey at the time, won it in 1912, but only with 40% of the vote after Republicans split between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.   When he ran for re-election in 2016, Wilson lost Morris by 12 points.

Morris is one of six New Jersey counties where Republicans outnumber Democrats.  On Election Day, the GOP registration advantage was 20,711, 34% to 29%.  Four years ago, there were 38,352 more Republicans than Democrats, 35% to 24%.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is ahead in Morris by 4,775 (50.2% to 48.5%) against Republican Rik Mehta.  Booker became the first Democratic statewide candidate to win Morris since Bill Bradley in 1984.  Bradley lived in Denville.

Morris will continue to be represented by two Democrats in the House: Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).

Sherrill has an 8,319-vote lead in the 11th district portion of Morris County, 52% to 48% against Republican Rosemary Becchi.  Four years ago, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) won the same district with 62%.

Republican Tom Kean, Jr. is ahead the Morris municipalities in the 7th by 4,438 votes, 53% to 47%, over Malinowski.  Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township), who was unseated by Malinowski in 2018, took 57% under the same map in 2016.

In total, Morris has so far in 2020 voted for Democratic congressional candidates by a 50.7%-49.3% margin.  In 2016, the GOP House percentage was 62%.

This was the first time Morris voted for Democratic presidential, U.S. Senate and House candidates in the same election.

When Johnson won the county in 1964, Morris went for Bernard Shanley, a former top Eisenhower White House staffer, against U.S. Senator Harrison Williams  But the county also went for Rodney Frelinghuysen’s father,  Rep. Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), then a  six-term incumbent.

Rep. William Tuttle (R-Westfield) was re-elected to the Union/Morris congressional seat in 1912 with Wilson, but that was right before U.S. Senators were directly elected.

Biden had no local coattails

Democratic strength at the top of the ticket didn’t help down-ballot candidates who had hoped for some coattails.

In the race for Morris County Freeholder – it will be County Commissioner on January 1 – Republican incumbent Tayfun Selen won his first full term.  He leads Democrat Cary Amaro by 12,758 votes, 52.3% to 47.7%.

It’s the closest freeholder race in years, but nowhere near enough to help Democrats score their first win for a county office since Douglas Romaine won a freeholder seat in 1973.

In special elections for State Senate and Assembly in the 25th district, viewed as potentially competitive after polling showed Biden ahead, turned out to be solid Republican victories.

State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) is up by 9,446 votes, 54% to 46%, and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) is in front by 5,580 votes, 52% to 48%.

Because they ran in a heavy turnout presidential election year, Bucco and Dunn now hold the records for the most votes ever received by any candidate for the New Jersey Legislature in modern-day history.

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