Can Sires be unseated? ‘The odds are really, really long, but they aren’t zero,’ professor says

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With all eyes on Hudson County and beyond for the Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District, a longtime political science professor at Seton Hall University says that while U.S. Rep. Albio Sires isn’t bulletproof on July 7th, the odds are clearly in his favor.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“There has been 84 primary challenges since the 1980s and none of them have been successful. The odds of a primary challenge to a sitting member of congress working out is a pretty long shot overall,” said SHU political science professor Matthew Hale, referencing an April article from the New Jersey Globe.

“We have a history of re-electing and having safe congressional seats. That being said, the fact that all these big, heavy hitters are now coming out for Sires and putting their name behind him means somebody’s nervous. They must have data or information that leads them to believe that this is a competitive race, they can’t just ignore it completely.”

When asked if upstart challenger Hector Oseguera, who has recently drawn the ire of the Sires campaign, had a legitimate shot to beat Sires, who has been in the House since 2006, he said it’s improbable – but not impossible.

“The odds are really, really long, but they aren’t zero … The Democratic party is trying to figure out whether it’s going to be a new progressive party or a middle of the road party. All the New Jersey primary challengers are progressives that aren’t happy with Democrats,” Hale, also a Highland Park councilman, added.

Hale also said that it can’t be forgotten that the Democratic parties in New Jersey are very good at getting out the vote, though younger people with more extreme beliefs, whether right or left, or more likely to vote-by-mail.

Next Tuesday’s election will be contested primary via VBM ballots, though select polling locations will be open. The change came via an order from Gov. Phil Murphy (D), one of many actions taken in hopes of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

When asked if he thought that U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who upset Joe Crowley in 2018 and easily won her primary this year, would consider endorsing a fellow progressive, Hale sounded doubtful about that prospect.

“That would solidify the progressive tag of the wing, but it’s a little more problematic just because on top of AOC wanting to make sure that she endorses progressives, I do think she recognizes the importance of diversity and not taking out a Latinx legislator,” he said.

“I think she’d have a much more difficult time coming out against Sires than say Frank Pallone.”

Hale also noted that former vice president Joe Biden was on his political death bid earlier this year before the national Democratic party coalesced around him.

“You’ve seen that in today’s politics that there can be sort of an instant change. I think things are more volatile,” he said.

This morning, the Politico Playbook indicated that CD-8 had the highest potential for an upset out of the contested races in New Jersey, though prominent Pollster Patrick Murray said Sires’ recent high octane approach was simply out of an “overabundance of caution.”

Sires, seeking his ninth term, will take on Oseguera and veteran Will Sheehan in the primary.

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