Democratic National Committee chair says N.J. municipal wins canceled out legislative losses

NJ.com
November 6, 2019

By Jonathan D. Salant

WASHINGTON — Sure, New Jersey Republicans flipped their first Democratic-held state Senate seat since 2007 and picked up at least two Democratic-held state Assembly seats Tuesday, while losing none of their own members.

But Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Wednesday touted his party’s strong showing in municipal elections around the state as a bellwether for 2020. That’s when the Democrats need to defend four rookie U.S. House members who won Republican-held congressional districts just a year earlier.

“We won a lot of very critical municipal races in New Jersey,” Perez said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. “Did we win 100 percent of the races out there? No. But did we win the majority of the races out there? Absolutely.”

Democratic candidates won the mayor’s offices in Dumont, Hamilton, and Bergenfield, all of which had been run by Republicans. They also were in position to take control of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders for the first time in five decades.

“New Jersey is going to continue to be a great model of how we succeed as Democrats,” Perez said. “They’ve built a remarkably effective, every-zip-code organization, and that’s what enables them to win. Some of these races turn on some local issues but when you look at the aggregate data in New Jersey, we did pretty darn well.”

Even so, the Democrats not only lost legislative seats, but failed to win districts where they had pushed to oust Republicans, including Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.

GOP candidates running in 2020 painted the results as a backlash to Gov. Phil Murphy and said they boded well for their chances next year.

“From every corner of the state, our outstanding Republican candidates stood up — and prevailed,” said Stuart Meissner, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Cory Booker.

And Frank Pallotta, one of the Republican candidates running against U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., credited state party chairman Doug Steinhardt for building an organization “that led our candidates across the state to victory.”

Perez, though, said that not only were Democrats positioned to retain the 11 House districts they now hold, but have set their sights on the 12th, now held by Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist.

“I’m actually focused in 2020 on taking the remaining House seat in New Jersey,” Perez said. “If Phil Murphy was here, he’d say, ‘I want all those House seats.’ That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

https://www.nj.com/politics/2019/11/democratic-national-committee-chair-says-nj-municipal-wins-canceled-out-legislative-losses.html