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N.J. incumbents who supported unpopular gas tax hike win

 Many New Jersey residents were upset when the state gas tax shot up by 23 cents a gallon last year to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. But they didn't take it out on  lawmakers. (AP file photo)

Many New Jersey residents were upset when the state gas tax shot up by 23 cents a gallon last year to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. But they didn't take it out on lawmakers. (AP file photo)

Many New Jersey residents were upset when the state gas tax shot up by 23 cents a gallon last year to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. But they didn’t take it out on the lawmakers who approved that increase in Tuesday’s primary election.

All the state legislators who voted for the tax increase won, said Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray.

“On the Republican side — which is where there was some concern that it could hurt some incumbents there who had supported it — the turnout was so low, that there just wasn’t much enthusiasm about voting about anything,” he said.

Some challengers focused on the gas tax hike, Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison said, but that didn’t resonate with voters.

“What we see is that party lines matter,” she said. “So all of the individuals who voted for the gas tax received the party endorsement in the various districts, and that was the determining factor in the election.”

If gas prices were higher, Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley said the tax hike might have been a more potent issue.

“The price of gas is not particularly high now,” Woolley said Wednesday. “People don’t go the pump and curse the way they did a few years ago. So, really, the gas tax has not had the same kind of impact it might have if prices were high.”

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