New Jersey 2020 Election Recap
On November 4, 2020, eyes were glued to TV screens across the country, eagerly waiting for polls to close and election results roll in. New Jerseyans should be proud of the example our state set for the rest of the country with record voter participation, the support and re-election of all incumbents, and a future filled with Vote-By-Mail (VBM), early voting, and adult use recreational marijuana.
Governor Phil Murphy prioritized the health of New Jerseyans by overhauling our election process and leading New Jersey's first-ever general election conducted almost entirely by mail leading to record-breaking voter participation.
Vote-By-Mail was so successful that we will likely see a significant increase in voters that use this option again in New Jersey's future. Statewide, over 3.5 million mail-in ballots had been returned before election day. According to Governor Murphy, "That's more than 90% of the entire turnout for the 2016 election."
At the county level, Bergen County submitted more mail-in ballots than any other county, and Hunterdon County returned 85% of their ballots, which was the highest rate out of the entire state. At the municipal level, Jersey City voters handed in the highest number of ballots, at 85,940. The best turnout was 100% in tiny Pine Valley. All 11 ballots issued to voters there were returned.
New Jersey had three referendums on the ballot this year, all of which were successful.
- Possessing and using adult use recreational marijuana passed with 67%.
- Extending the Veteran's property tax deduction passed with 76%.
- Delaying redistricting if the 2020 Census is delayed passed with 58%.
Adult use recreational marijuana will continue to be a hot topic in the coming days as New Jersey lawmakers debate how it will be implemented and regulated throughout the state. Legislation in the Senate and Assembly is already moving through quickly, but more steps need to be taken before the legal marijuana industry has a framework and regulations to operate.
The ballot measure voters approved states that rules for the transition to a recreational marketplace will be adopted in six months (at the latest) after legislation is signed into law. A month after that, the state’s Regulatory Cannabis Commission will begin to accept and process applications for licenses.
In addition, the ballot measure calls for a 6.625% state tax on marijuana sales and allows municipalities to charge an extra 2% tax. Tax revenue from adult use recreational marijuana sales is expected to generate at least $126 million once the marketplace is established. The revenue and jobs that will be created by this sector come at an opportune time as New Jersey faces a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall caused by the COVID health pandemic.
New Jersey now joins fourteen other states that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana.
The Associated Press called New Jersey for Joe Biden at 8:01 p.m. on election night, just sixty seconds after polls closed. One minute later, the Associated Press called a victory for Cory Booker, the former Mayor of Newark, who easily defeated his opponent to secure his second full term to the United States Senate. These results were unsurprising, as the last time New Jersey voted for a Presidential GOP candidate was George H.W. Bush in 1988, and the last time the GOP won a Senate seat was in 1972.
In addition to the Presidential and U.S. Senate race, all twelve of New Jersey's congressional seats were also on the ballot. In an uncommon display, every incumbent won re-election, showcasing strong support for the New Jersey delegation. The delegation was split by 10 Democrats and 2 Republicans heading into Election Day – and that is exactly how it stayed.
U.S. House District 1
Congressman Donald Norcross (D) has represented New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District since 2014 and is the only electrician in Congress. He rose through the ranks and became President of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO, where he advocated on behalf of thousands of hardworking men and women for nearly 20 years.
U.S. House District 2
Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R) was first elected to Congress as a democrat in 2018 but switched parties and backed President Trump. District 2 was a highly contested race as Van Drew defended his party-change while also facing off against Amy Kennedy, former schoolteacher, and wife of President Kennedy's nephew.
U.S. House District 3
Congressman Andy Kim (D) was first elected to Congress in 2018 and is the proud son of Korean immigrants. Before being elected, Kim served at the Pentagon, State Department, the White House National Security Council, and in Afghanistan as an advisor to Generals Petraeus and Allen.
U.S. House District 4
Congressman Chris Smith (R) has represented New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District since 1980 and was the only Republican member of the delegation until Van Drew switched parties. In 2019, Smith’s Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act was signed into law authorizing $430 million over four years for a comprehensive government effort to fight sex and labor trafficking at home and abroad.
U.S. House District 5
Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D) has represented New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District since 2016 and was recognized as the most bipartisan Democratic freshman Member of Congress by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.
U.S. House District 6
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D) was first elected to Congress in 1988 and has worked hard on behalf of New Jerseyans and all Americans. Amongst his many accomplishments, Pallone served as Chairman of the Health Subcommittee during the 111th Congress and played a key role in authoring and passing the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. House District 7
Congressman Tom Malinowski (D) defeated his opponent in the most contested race in New Jersey. State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R), whose father was the 48th Governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990, held out for a victory as ballots continued to be counted in the weeks after the election, and the margin between the candidates narrowed to just 1%.
Malinowski has served the 7th District since 2018. As a child, Malinowski and his mother fled Communist Poland and relocated to Central Jersey. Before Congress, Malinowski served as a Senior Director on President Clinton’s National Security Council and served the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
U.S. House District 8
Congressman Albio Sires (D) has served the 8th District since 2006. Sires was born in Cuba and fled to the United States with his family in 1962, and became a teacher and small business owner before entering public service. Before Congress, Sires serves as Speaker of the New Jersey State Assembly for two terms.
U.S. House District 9
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D) was first elected to Congress in 1996. Since 2007, Bill has served on the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, overseeing numerous economic issues, including Social Security, taxes, Medicare, health policy, and international trade.
U.S. House District 10
Congressman Donald Payne (D) was first elected to serve the 10th Congressional District in 2012. As Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, Payne introduced two bills signed into law by President Barack Obama. The Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act of 2015 ensures that DHS personnel can reliably communicate during emergencies.
U.S. House District 11
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D) was first elected to Congress in 2019 and is a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor. Sherrill spent almost 10 years on active duty in the United States Navy flying missions throughout Europe and the Middle East as a Sea King helicopter pilot, working on the Battle Watch Floor in the European Theater during the Iraq invasion, and serving as a Flag Aide to the Deputy Commander in Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
U.S. House District 12
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) has been representing the 12th Congressional District since 2014, when she became the first African American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress. Throughout her years of public service, Watson Coleman has continually shattered racial and gender barriers by also becoming the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader in the New Jersey General Assembly and the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. In 2016, Watson Coleman founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls alongside two of her colleagues.
New Jersey had two Special Elections this election cycle for seats in the State Senate and General Assembly. On September 16, 2019, State Senator Anthony Bucco (R) passed away, leaving his seat vacant. His son, Anthony Bucco Jr., vacated his own seat in the State Assembly and was appointed to fill his father’s senate seat for the remainder of the term.
State Senate District 25
State Senator Anthony Bucco Jr. served in the State Assembly from 2010 – 2019 before being appointed to his late father’s Senate seat. Bucco Jr. won his re-election to the Senate seat and will now serve a two-year term.
State Assembly District 25
After Anthony Bucco Jr. vacated his State Assembly seat, Aura Dunn (R) was appointed to fill the vacant State Assembly seat for the remaining months of the term. Dunn won her re-election and will now serve a two-year term.