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New Jersey Democrats: FUGGEDABOUTIT.
NJ Democrats come roaring back!
Republicans lost so much Tuesday, we couldn’t cover it all in one day. Their losing streak also extended to New Jersey, where they believed a motivated MAGA base would help them flip the Legislature. Instead, Democrats only expanded their majorities.
New Jersey Democrats were admittedly caught with their pants down (electorally speaking) in 2021, when they lost six Assembly seats and one in the Senate. Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election was also a nail-biter that just narrowly averted a sleeveless-fleece-style catastrophe.
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Maybe Republicans would’ve had better luck if they’d focused on more relevant issues, but it’s usually just plain more fun for them to attack the vulnerable. Attorney General Matt Platkin had filed complaints in June against three Monmouth County school districts that had policies requiring that school officials out trans students to their parents. Platkin argued that these policies violates the state’s anti-discrimination law. Republicans seized on this as a “parental rights” issue, and hey, masking outright bigotry as “parental rights” helped send Glenn Youngkin to the governor’s mansion in Virginia.
Steve Dnistrian, the Republican challenging Democratic state Sen. Vin Gopal, said, “Democrats … are insisting that parents not be part of the discussion if kids express questions about being LGBTQ.”
Dnistrian lost big last night. Gopal won re-election with 60 percent of the vote in the conservative-leaning 11th District. “You all tonight made history,” Gopal told his supporters, and Gov. Murphy, who might’ve started celebrating early, exclaimed, “LD 11, you are rockin’, baby!” I love New Jersey.
Democrats swept Monmouth County: Ocean Township council member Margie Donlon and attorney Luanne Peterpaul defeated incumbent Republican state Reps. Kim Eulner and Marilyn Piperno. (Peterpaul is now the first openly gay woman in the state Legislature.)
Democrats also took out the broom in the 16th Legislative District: State Sen. Andrew Zwicker, Democratic Assemblyman Roy Freiman, and Mitchelle Drulis all won their races.
Zwicker credited the “80,000 doors, 500,000 phone calls, and 450,000 texts, with just an enormous number of volunteers” who “did the work from day one, going back into the winter, and literally left no stone unturned.”
Another first-term Republican who lost re-election was state Sen. Ed Durr, who’d unexpectedly beaten former Senate President Stephen Sweeney in 2021. Former state Assemblyman John Burzichelli flipped that seat back to Democratic control with 53 percent of the vote.
Durr is the charming individual who suggested women should keep their legs closed and who wanted to “spay women like dogs.” Last year, he introduced a variation of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which didn’t go anywhere because New Jersey isn’t Florida. Only Florida’s Florida, and that’s painful enough.
Republicans made a push for Democratic Assemblyman Paul Moriarty’s seat in the competitive Fourth District and lost. Republicans invested a great deal into taking out Democratic state Sen. Joe Lagana (D-Paramus), Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn), and Assemblyman Chris Tully (D-Bergenfield) in the 38th District. They also lost. Republicans on Tuesday did a lot of losing, which unlike winning, you can get tired of pretty quickly.
The biggest upset was Democrat Avi Schnall ousting Republican Assemblyman Ned Thomson in the deep-red 30th Legislative District. Right-wing groups had attacked Schnall, a rabbi, for appearing with the LGBTQ rainbow in a campaign ad. (Right-wingers hate both queer people and rainbows.) Nonetheless, Schnall carried 31 percent of the vote in a four-way race, while Thomson managed just under 20 percent. That’s what mathematicians would call a crushing loss.
Former House Rep. Tom Malinowski observed that voters had consistently rejected Republicans’ cynical “culture war” posturing.
“The more mainstream message — ‘let’s protect our public schools, let’s empower parents, but not empower small groups of parents to make decisions for everybody else’ — prevailed,” he said.
Republicans got lucky once in Virginia with their CRT/queer panic crap. It won’t happen again.
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