Rob Menendez and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. dominated in low turnout primaries in the 8th and 10th Congressional Districts, respectively, today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Menendez, a lawyer, Port Authority commissioner, and the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), secured the support of outgoing U.S. Rep. Albio Sires before he was even a declared candidate.
Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with the Democratic parties in Union, Essex, and Hudson Counties were quick to follow suit.
Rob Menendez, who ran on the party line, made of the most of his advantages, fundraising over $1 million, attending a wide range of community events, and hitting doors early and often.
Challengers David Ocampo Grajales and Ane Roseborough-Eberhard were never able to gain momentum in the race and were well beyond striking distance.
Early voting tallies show Menendez up on Ocampo Grajales by over a 4-to-1 margin.
” … [Since declaring], we have seen Russia launch a land war in Ukraine, the Supreme Court indicate its intention to overturn Roe, the massacre in Buffalo, and then Uvalde – a community that looks much like the one I grew up in,” Menendez said in a statement.
“I think about these challenges every day and they weigh on me, as they do on the entire country. But I believe we can overcome them because I believe in this country and what it represents.”
As for Payne, he is poised to cruise to his sixth term, securing a wide range of endorsements that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Murphy, Booker, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop – along with a wide breadth of labor groups.
He also posted his best fundraising totals to date, raising just short of $1 million.
While challenger Imani Oakley had a solid base of support, raising $425,511, she was unable to gain traction at the polls.
The third candidate in the race, Akil Khalfani, never filed a report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and didn’t run much of a campaign.
Prelim totals out of Essex and Hudson Counties both showed Payne leading by at least a 4-to-1 margin.
“I would like to thank our incredible supporters for working so hard to make this victory possible, from the many labor unions and progressive organizations that endorsed, to the elected officials and community leaders that engaged with their residents,” Payne said in his own statement.
“More than anything I want to thank the everyday folks who continue to put their trust and faith in me to represent them in our nation’s capital. Democracy is about choices and 10th District Democrats made their voices heard loud and clear today, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Hudson County Board of Elections Clerk Michael Harper said turnout likely won’t break 10 percent, with approximately 1,700 early votes cast, 7,500 vote-by-mail ballots, and roughly 20,000 votes on the machines.
Those figures would bring turnout to less than eight percent.
“Any urban area, us, Essex, Passaic, Camden: our numbers are skewed because our voters are transient. A lot of people on the voter rolls don’t live here any more,” Harper noted.
County Sheriff Frank Schillari, County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado, and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), who represents Kearny and Secaucus, all ran unopposed.
Democrats are shoo-ins to win election in November in navy blue Hudson County, though Pascrell will likely have a tougher fight on his hands than the rest of the group when he rematches Republican nominee Billy Prempeh in the largely Passaic County-based district.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with comments from Rob Menendez and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.