Norcross gets Democratic nod in for congressional re-election bid; LaVergne wins in 3rd

Incumbent Donald Norcross wins the Democratic nomination to represent New Jersey's 1st Congressional District over challenger Alex Law.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Incumbent Donald Norcross wins the Democratic nomination to represent New Jersey's 1st Congressional District over challenger Alex Law.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Rep. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, has won his party’s nomination in one of New Jersey’s most contested primary elections of the year.

The former electrician, who has served in Congress for a little longer than one term, beat former IBM consultant and political newcomer Alex Law, who accused Norcross of engaging in pay-to-play politics in South Jersey.

Norcross won with 70% of the vote, while Law secured only 30%.

“I’m humbled by the support, not only in this room but around the district,” said Norcross Tuesday night at Camden County Democratic headquarters in Cherry Hill.

Law, who turned 25 years old this year, frequently touted the many volunteers his campaign had recruited to knock on doors and call voters throughout Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington Counties. But his ground game proved insufficient to overcome Norcross, who raised more than $1 million throughout the course of the campaign.

In the days leading up to the primary, Norcross also had help from an independent expenditure group called Patriot Majority USA, which spent nearly $215,000 on direct mail ads in support of the incumbent.

West Berlin resident George Purkins, a supporter and high school classmate of Norcross’s, attributes the Democrat’s victory to his loyalty to the district.

“He’s not that empty suit that goes to [Washington] D.C and forgets to come back. You know what I’m sayin’?” said the retired Marine. “When he comes home, he’s involved.”

Norcross will face Republican Bob Patterson, who ran unopposed in the primary, in the general election in November. The district historically tilts Democratic.

Other races

As expected, New Jerseyans overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. She beat out fellow Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump also won his party’s nomination in New Jersey.

In the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers large parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties, former mortgage broker Fred Lavergne beat tavern owner and former Asbury Park councilman Jim Keady, who gained fame when Gov. Chris Christie told him to “sit down and shut up” at an event marking the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

Endorsements in the district had been split, with LaVergne securing the nod from the Burlington County Democrats while the Ocean County Democrats endorsed Keady.

LaVergne will go on to face incumbent first-term Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur, a former insurance executive, in November.

No incumbent Congressmen facing challenges in New Jersey yesterday lost their bids.

Democrats Albio Sires and Bonnie Watson Coleman as well as Republicans Chris Smith, Scott Garrett, Leonard Lance, and Rodney Frelinghuysen all secured their party’s nominations.

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