Tea party has scant influence on N.J. legislative races

With all of the seats in the New Jersey Legislature up for election in November, analysts say it doesn’t appear the tea party will play a big role in the contests.

 

There are no tea party candidates running in any of the legislative districts with potentially competitive races.

 

However, various tea party groups throughout the state may still have an effect on the election, according to Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.

“While we see some tea party influence in very few statewide legislative races in terms of candidates, I really think in this election what we’re going to see is Republican candidates attracting tea party constituents by positioning themselves to be perhaps a little bit more to the right than they have been in years past,” Harrison said.

The tea party could actually help the Democrats in the 38th District in Bergen County, said Patrick Murray, a Monmouth University political analyst.

The Democrats there are trying to portray the Republican legislative candidates as being too closely aligned with the tea party and out of step with the larger electorate.

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin says the tea party groups in New Jersey and nationally have more of an influence on congressional and presidential elections.

“If you want to change Washington, D.C., you’re very motivated as a tea party member,” Dworkin said. “If you want to change Trenton, you already have (Gov.) Chris Christie there who has done a lot of the things that you want, so it’s not nearly a motivating a factor to get involved with legislative races.”

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