The U.S. Senate race on top of the ballot between Senator Cory Booker and GOP nominee Jeff Bell has generated no excitement and little media attention.
The congressional races in CD 4 and CD 6 are not competitive.
The action, and the money, in the 2014 election cycle in Monmouth County has been in the Freeholder race where Democrats statewide have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a foothold in the county.
Republican incumbents Lillian Burry and Gary Rich have been fighting off a spirited and well funded challenge from Democrats Larry Luttrell and Giuseppe “Joe’ Grillo. When all the money is counted, the Democrats will probably have outspent the Republicans by more than 2-1.
If the Democrats are successful in picking up even one seat, it will be a historic victory. No Republican incumbent freeholder has been defeated in a general election in the 20 years I’ve been following Monmouth County politics. Republicans have forced their own incumbents off the ballot…Ted Narozanik in 2006, Anna Little in 2007 and Bill Barham in 2008, only to see those seats won by Democrats. But Monmouth County voters have not fired an incumbent Republican freeholder for decades, if ever.
In order to win, even one freeholder seat, the Democrats need a low turnout and discontented Republicans. The uncompetitive U.S. Senate race and Congressional races are favorable to the Monmouth Dems in that regard. The Dems have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bloodying up Burry and Rich in order to weaken their support among Republicans. We’ll know tonight if it worked.
Last year in the Special U.S. Senate Election against Booker and Steve Lonegan, 26% of Monmouth County voters turned out. Lonegan defeated Booker in the county by 9%
In 2011, the last time Burry and Rich were elected, most people forgot there was an election. Only 27% of the Monmouth voters (only 1800 more than voted last October in the Booker/Lonegan Special Senate Election). Burry and Rich defeated Amy Mallett and William Shea by comfortable 9,000 vote margins.
In the gubernatorial election last November, 42% of Monmouth voters came out and gave the Governor Chris Christie led ticket a huge victory. Republican Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso crushed Democrats Brian Froelich and Larry Luttrell by over 35,000 votes.
2010 was the most recent “mid-term” election. 44% of Monmouth voters turned out in the “Tea Party Wave” anti-ObamaCare election. Freeholders Rob Clifton (now an Assemblyman)and Tom Arnone each earned over 100,000 votes. Democrats John D’Amico and Janice Venebles limped to the finish line with roughly 68,000 votes each.
I’m guessing turnout in Monmouth will be lower today than it was last November, but higher than it was last October. I’m predicting 165,000 voters, a 38.5% turnout. Burry and Rich will each get roughly 82,000 votes, Luttrell and Grillo will each get roughly 78,000. Luttrell and Rich will each get less than their running mates because the Asbury Park Press endorsed them.