On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, New Jersey voters went to the polls to select their party’s nominees for Governor and all 120 seats in the Legislature. After a 2016 election cycle full of surprises, New Jersey’s 2017 primary resulted in wins for the gubernatorial front-runners, Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Kim Guadagno. Those legislative districts with contested primaries also resulted in no major upsets and saw the expected candidates emerge with victories.
Former Ambassador Phil Murphy won the Democratic primary with 48 percent of the vote (241,353). His next closest competitor, former U.S. Treasury official Jim Johnson, garnered 22 percent (109,260), followed by Assemblyman John Wisniewski who also received 22 percent (107,872). Senator Raymond Lesniak came in fourth with 5 percent (24,136).
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno won the Republican primary with 47 percent of the vote (113,404). Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli tallied 31 percent (75,275).
In both contests, turnout was low. About one-quarter of Democratic voters, and only 20 percent of Republicans, participated in the primary. With New Jersey and Virginia being only states to hold a gubernatorial election in 2017, national groups are expected to make these two elections a referendum on President Trump and his agenda.
Of the 40 legislative districts, only a handful saw competitive primary contests.
- In Legislative District 2 (Atlantic County), incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo and his running mate, John Armato, were successful against a challenge from Atlantic County Freeholder Ernie Coursey.
- In Legislative District 12 (Monmouth/Middlesex/Burlington/Ocean), incumbent Republican Senator Sam Thompson and incumbent Republican Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton survived a challenge from a slate of Senate and Assembly candidates headed up by a former Old Bridge Republican Party Chairperson.
- In Legislative District 17, incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Smith and incumbent Democratic Assemblymen Joe Egan and Joe Danielsen defeated a slate of candidates running on a progressive platform.
- In Legislative District 24 (Morris/Sussex/Warren), incumbent Republican Senator Steve Oroho, incumbent Republican Assemblyman Parker Space, and former Commissioner of Labor Hal Wirths defeated their fellow Republican rivals.
- In Legislative District 26 (Morris/Essex/Passaic), incumbent Republicans Assemblyman Jay Webber and Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce were the two top voter-getters, defeating Morris County Freeholders Hank Lyons and John Cesaro.
- In Legislative District 40 (Bergen/Essex/Morris/Passaic), incumbent Republican Assemblyman Kevin Rooney and his running mates for Senate and Assembly, Kristin Corrado and Chris DePhillips, defeated a slate of candidates organized and led by Bergen GOP Chairman Paul DiGaetano.
New Jersey’s general election for Governor and Legislature is on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.