New Jersey wraps up voting Tuesday for a new Legislature, with all 120 seats on the ballot, as Republicans fight for controlling either chamber for the first time in more than two decades.
The GOP has refrained from declaring its members would recapture control of either chamber, which they haven’t held since 2001. But they sounded optimistic after picking up seven legislative seats in 2021, when Gov. Phil Murphy won reelection by a slimmer margin than polls had projected.
At stake is control of the 80-member Assembly and 40-seat Senate, with Democrats currently dominating both chambers, as well as holding the governorship.
Candidates in this year’s contested races each ran on their own issues. But overall, Democrats focused on a number of property tax rebates they delivered over the last two years as well as pledging to defend abortion rights.
Republicans campaigned in part on ending Democrats’ more than two decades of control and leaned heavily on what they cast as the state’s failure to recognize parental rights in schools. Specifically, the GOP opposes a lawsuit by the state Attorney General’s Office that would prevent three school districts from notifying parents of a student’s transgender identity.
Offshore wind farms, which Murphy and Democrats have pushed and passed legislation to support, also dominated in the election in key battleground districts. The final days of the campaign got a shock when Danish wind company Orsted, which had planned two offshore projects, abruptly scuttled their plans. It was a blow to Murphy specifically and Democrats in general.
Republicans said it was a victory for grassroots opposition to wind farms as well as a sign Democrats blundered on a major piece of their agenda.
Democrats hold a 25-15 seat advantage in the Senate and a 46-34 edge in the Assembly.
New Jersey’s Legislature has 40 total districts, with each sending one senator and two Assembly members to Trenton. Both parties typically run all three candidates together on a ticket. Among the most closely watched races this year is the 11th District, where Democrats control the Senate seat and the GOP has one of the two Assembly spots.
Voting started in late September when the first mail-in ballots went out. The state also offered early in-person voting. Polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.