By Art Gallagher
While much of the media is reporting how poorly U.S. Senator Bob Menendez performed in the Democrat primary yesterday, I couldn’t miss how poorly Josh Welle, address none of your business, performed against former Asbury Park Councilman Jim Keady, Spring Lake, in the 4th congressional district primary.
With all three county party lines, more money and the endorsement of his former landlord, State Senator and honorary volunteer firefighter Vin Gopal, Welle only got 57% of the vote against Keady’s 43%.
Congressman Chris Smith, Hamilton, overperformed expectations, especially given that he was unopposed in the CD-4 Republican primary.
Throughout the state, most Democrats got more primary votes than Republicans got in their primary. There are 900,000 more D’s that Rs in NJ after all. But not in the 4th. 25,897 Republican came out to vote for Congressman Smith, who was unopposed. 16,875 Democrats voted for Welle and 12,648 Democrats voted for Keady.
Compare the CD-4 turnout to CD-2, another Republican, partially Jersey Shore, district, where there was competitive primaries on both sides in the race to replace retiring Congressman Frank LoBiondo.
On the Republican side in CD-2, former Atlantic County Freeholder Seth Grossman won the nomination in a four way race with 10,106 votes. There were 25,925 total votes cast in the competitive CD-2 Republican primary, 28 more than were cast for Smith in the uncontested CD-4. In the Democrat primary, State Senator Jeff Van Drew won the four way race for the nomination with 15,654 votes. There were 28,255 total votes cast in the CD-2 Democrat contest.
The lack of enthusiasm for Menendez among NJ Democrats is bad news for Welle’s long shot attempt against Congressman Smith. Welle will be competing with Menendez for campaign dollars. Menendez’s seat is a national priority for Democrats. The CD-4 seat is a fantasy for national Democrats who have come to realize that their anticipated blue wave is looking like a ripple at best. Welle will probably have a tough time raising as much money in the general election as he did in the primary.
Another handicap for Welle is the abundance of Independent candidates. Voters who are inclined to vote against Smith, for whatever reason, will have lots of choices. Five Independents have filed to run in CD-4. Three of those candidates likely have enough signatures to survive a challenge, if any are filed. Smith is thus likely to have between 4 and 6 challengers.
Here’s a tidbit for political trivia junkies who have read this far…
Lisa McCormick, the woman who won six counties and 38% of the statewide vote against Menendez yesterday is hitched with Jim Devine, the guy who created the #HuntRepublicans and #HuntRepublicanCongressmen hashtags on his social media accounts last June in response to the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise.