While the Democratic governor is fighting with the Democratic legislative leadership, Republicans already have their sights on 2019 and a very possible special election for the State Senate.
The GOP seems to think that Jeff Van Drew will win his South Jersey congressional race this fall, setting up a November 2019 contest with whomever Democrats appoint to fill his State Senate seat. Republicans are already laying the ground work for next year, running digital ads in the 1st legislative district targeting Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney. Their message is that a state government shutdown – and the proposed tax on property rentals — would hurt tourism in the Cape May-Cumberland district.
Van Drew’s personal popularity has allowed the 1st legislative district to elect Democrats despite a Republican edge in voter registration. The 1st has 4,512 more Republicans than Democrats and gave Donald Trump an 8,616-vote margin in 2016, 55%-45%.
The leading Democratic candidate is Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, an Iraq War veteran who was handpicked by Van Drew after Matthew Milam resigned in 2013, although his succession to the Senate is not at all automatic. There is speculation among South Jersey Democrats that another Senate candidate could emerge – maybe even a party-switcher from Cape May.
Republicans have also not settled on a candidate, although Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa is thought to be a likely candidate for the post.