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String of victories by N.J. Democrats allow them to expand their control of Legislature

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String of victories by N.J. Democrats allow them to expand their control of Legislature

Nov 08, 2023 | 1:01 am ET
By Nikita Biryukov
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String of victories by N.J. Democrats allow them to expand their control of Legislature
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Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), who won reelection with 60% of the vote Tuesday night, smiles during his victory speech at Avenue in Long Branch on Nov. 7, 2023. (Sophie Nieto-Munoz | New Jersey Monitor)

String of victories by N.J. Democrats allow them to expand their control of Legislature

Democrats swept races in competitive districts across New Jersey Tuesday, sailing to victories on broad margins built by mail-in voters ahead of Election Day as months of Republican messaging over culture issues failed to turn enough of their voters out to the polls.

Democrats will return to Trenton with expanded majorities in January after beating aside challengers in the 4th and 38th districts and reclaiming seats they lost two years ago in the 3rd and the 11th.

They even claimed a seat in the deeply Republican 30th District, where Democrat Avi Schnall ousted Assemblyman Ned Thompson (R-Ocean) in a victory carried by Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said in a statement that Tuesday’s results show voters have “again endorsed our agenda to make New Jersey a better place for all nine million of us.”

“Tonight, New Jersey has chosen solutions over cynicism, solutions over misinformation, solutions over division. In the face of constant bad faith attacks from the state Republicans, Democrats throughout New Jersey ran positive races focused on the issues our working families care about: affordability, the economy, gun safety, and protecting a woman’s right to choose, among so much more,” he said.

Republicans emerged with a single silver lining: Old Bridge Mayor Henry Owen easily defeated Democrat Brandon Rose to claim Sen. Sam Thompson’s (D-Middlesex) Senate seat in the solidly Republican 12th District (Thompson, a longtime Republican, defected to the Democratic Party earlier this year and opted not to seek reelection).

But the GOP had hoped voter anger over offshore wind and LGBTQ issues in schools would help them win control of one or both houses of the Legislature. Instead, it lost several seats it flipped in 2021. One of them was in the 3rd District, where Sen. Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) lost Tuesday to Democrat John Burzichelli, a former assemblyman who lost reelection in 2021.

Burzichelli during this year’s campaign highlighted Durr’s views on abortion, noting that Durr in 2020 wrote on Facebook “A woman does have a choice! Keep her legs closed.”

“The voters of South Jersey spoke loud and clear that they want a commonsense leader over a right-wing extremist,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Tuesday night.