Despite five members of Congress from our region retiring, the seats they vacated did not change parties Tuesday night and the favorites cruised to easy victories.
In New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, Republican Tom MacArthur defeated Democrat Aimee Belgard in one of the country’s most bitter and expensive house races. He will take the seat now occupied by former Philadelphia Eagle and Rep. Jon Runyan (R-Mount Laurel).
MacArthur is a retired insurance CEO who stepped down as the mayor of Randolph in North Jersey to run for the seat, moving permanently to his shore home in Ocean County. He campaigned on his business experience, promising voters he would work to boost the American economy and repeal Obamacare.
It was a good night for Republicans across the country, but MacArthur says he’s not taking his win for granted. “It’s not time to gloat, it’s time to govern,” he said.
Belgard while conceding defeat promised to continue to push for the issues she championed in the campaign.
“Countless issues will continue to need our voice, from raising the federal minimum wage, to insuring our joint base continues to be a vital piece of America’s national security, protecting social security and being a voice for our veterans. Together with the help of all of you in this room, we will continue to fight for the right priorities,” she said.
In a district covering much of the suburbs west of Philadelphia, Republican Ryan Costello won a convincing victory to succeed the retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester Springs).
Costello said he would try to work across the aisle in Congress to improve the country’s infrastructure and tax code.
“We need to begin efforts to bridge the partisan divide that has created gridlock in Washington. I believe I can do that. A lot of this campaign has been about trying to speak in a more forward-looking way that recognizes that there are a lot of differences in the world, a lot of differences in this country,” he said.
Costello is an attorney and the chairman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners. He defeated Democrat Manan Trivedi who lost his third bid for Congress.
U.S. Senate N.J.
New Jersey voters elected Democrat Cory Booker to his first full term in the U.S. Senate.
Booker easily defeated Republican Jeff Bell and will retain the Senate seat he won in a special election last year after the death of Frank Lautenberg. Bell had been living in Virginia for years and previously was best known for defeating Sen. Clifford Case in the 1978 GOP primary, though he lost to Bill Bradley in the fall.
Booker focused his campaign on bipartisanship and emphasized it in his victory speech.
“I’m going to fight for everyone in our state, from every background, from every geography,” Booker said. “We’re going to fight to unite our country again and to focus not on left or right but to focus on moving America forward.”
Booker says the U.S. has fallen behind in the things that matter and investments need to be made to improve education, health care, infrastructure, and job growth.
New Jersey 1st
State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden County) outspent former Philadelphia Eagle and Republican Gary Cobb by more than ten-to-one and beat Cobb handily.
Norcross says he will report to Washington as soon as possible to finish the unexpired term of former Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights).
“I’m looking forward to a very energetic few weeks and then putting my hand on the Bible and doing everything I can to help those for those who need help and need a voice in our nation’s capital,” said Norcross.
Norcross’ brother George is one of the most powerful Democrats in New Jersey. Donald Norcross will have to resign his seat in the New Jersey Senate to go to Washington.
New Jersey finally sends a woman back to Washington
In Central New Jersey, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer County) will become the first African-American women to represent the Garden State in Congress. She’s also the first woman from New Jersey to be sent to Washington in 12 years. She’s a former chair of the Democratic State Committee and former Majority Leader in the Assembly. (Bonus trivia: who was New Jersey’s last female in Congress? Answer: Marge Roukema, a Republican from Bergen County.)
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) won another resounding victory in Bucks County, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans there.
He convincingly beat Democrat Kevin Strouse, who recently moved to the district covering Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County.
“We need a pro-growth economic strategy that grows the economy, helps small and medium-size businesses, brings back manufacturing and gets people to work with good-paying jobs,” he said at a victory party in Doylestown.
Fitzpatrick vowed this will be his fourth and final term in Congress to live up to a self-imposed term limit. He first won the seat in 2004, lost it to Democrat Patrick Murphy two years later and mounted a comeback, ousting Murphy in 2010.
New Jersey 2nd
After getting the strongest challenge in many years, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Atlantic County) easily defeated Bill Hughes Jr., even though the Democrat’s father held the seat for two decades before LoBiondo. LoBiondo, who bucked his party leadership in Washington by calling them out for stalling federal aid for areas hit by Superstorm Sandy will now serve an eleventh term in the house.
LoBiondo says his first priority once he returns to DC will be extending unemployment benefits past 26 weeks to help the thousands of people who lost jobs at Atlantic City casinos, but he anticipates push-back.
“We know the numbers in the rest of the country show the long-term unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 14 years,” LoBiondo said. “So my colleagues are all saying, we don’t have our constituents that have a problem. But I have to get a whole bunch of other members of Congress to vote on this.”