N.J. voters largely ignore primary campaign for U.S. Senate seat

The primary election for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey is just three weeks away, but the race is not getting a lot of attention from Garden State voters.

Rutgers political science professor Ross Baker say most voters aren’t focused on the election.

“People are much more concerned about the weather, about sweating through the next few weeks, and I just don¹t think that primary is very high on people’s agenda,” Baker said Tuesday.

Though voters aren’t paying much attention to it now, the election is important, said Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison.

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“It really is quite significant because the outcome of this primary is essentially going to determine who will be sitting in the U.S. Senate from New Jersey for perhaps decades to come,” she said. “There’s very little turnover in these seats.”

As for the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Monday by the widow of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, analysts aen’t expecting it to have much of an impact.

Pallone is vying with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for the Democratic nomination.

Rutgers political science professor Ross Baker said he doubts the endorsement will sway many voters.

“Not a whole lot. I always question the value of endorsements,” he said. “I don’t think they’re terribly valuable, but I think it’s certainly a morale booster for the campaign.”

Harrison also said the endorsement will not do much to help Pallone beat front-runner Booker in the Aug. 13 primary.

“If this had been a situation in which there wasn’t a clear front runner, if Mayor Booker weren’t in the race, that endorsement may actually carry a bit more weight,” Harrison said.

Analysts expect voter turnout for the unusual election could be below 10 percent.

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