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June 05, 2017

2017 New Jersey primary: What you need to know

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Tuesday's New Jersey primary as voters cast ballots in the gubernatorial race, as well as contests for state legislature and Camden mayor.

Before you head out to vote, here's a rundown of what to expect, as well as a list of voter resources:


Four Democrats and two Republicans are seeking to replace unpopular two-term Gov. Chris Christie.

Phil Murphy, 59, a wealthy and retired executive of Goldman Sachs and ex-ambassador to Germany under Barack Obama, is the Democratic frontrunner. He has spent about five times as much as his rivals combined, loaning his campaign about $16 million. he has led in all polls. Never elected to office, the Monmouth County resident is backed by county party leaders.

Democrat Jim Johnson, 56, an attorney and former Clinton administration Treasury official, is a newcomer to New Jersey, like Murphy, and has centered his campaign on ethics reform. He is from Essex County.

Democratic state Sen. Ray Lesniak, 71, of Union County, is banking on his nearly four-decade legislative career, including support for gay marriage and environmental causes.

Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, 54, former New Jersey campaign chairman for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, is running behind support for a single-payer health care plan. He is from Middlesex County.

Those four candidates all met in two state-sponsored debates. Democratic candidates Bill Brennan and Tenafly council member Mark Zinna are also on the ballot but didn’t meet the requirements for televised debates.

The candidates agree substantively on major issues, including the need to act as a check on the Trump administration.

On the Republican side, Christie deputy Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, 58, is leading Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli in the polls. Both promise to move beyond Christie, who has low approval ratings.

Unlike the Democrats, there are substantive differences between them. Guadagno, a resident of Monmouth County, has promised not to raise taxes. Ciattarelli, 55, of Somerset County, would hike rates on high-income earners while cutting what corporations pay the state to zero over a decade.

They also face Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, Joseph Rullo and Hirsh Singh.


New Jersey’s Democrat-led 80-person Assembly and 40-member Senate are also up for election. Voters in eight Senate and 15 Assembly districts will have competitive primaries. Voters choose one candidate for state Senate and two for Assembly in each district.

None of the party leaders in either chamber is facing a primary challenge, and in some of the contested races the campaigns are among candidates of the party that has traditionally failed to win the general election.


There is only one competitive primary locally, in the 12th District. Republican incumbent Samuel Johnson is challenged by Art Haney in the district, which includes parts of Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Candidates running unopposed in South Jersey are:

Stephen Sweeney, the Democrat incumbent, and Republican Fran Grenier in the 3rd District, comprising Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

Democratic incumbent Fred Madden and Republican Michael Pascetta in the 4th District, comprising Camden and Gloucester counties.

Nilsa Cruz-Perez, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican Keith Walker in the 5th District, comprising Camden and Gloucester counties.

Democratic incumbent James Beach and Republican Robert Shapiro in the 6th District, comprising Burlington and Camden counties.

Democrat Troy Singleton and Republican Rob Prisco in the 7th District in Burlington County.

Dawn Addiego, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat George Youngkin in the 8th District, comprising Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties.

Republican incumbent Christopher Connors and Democrat Brian Corley White in the 9th District, comprising Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean counties.


All 80 seats are up in the Democratic-led Assembly. There are competitive primaries in 15 districts, including four local races. They are:

Democratic incumbents John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro are challenged by Democrat John Kalnas in the 3rd District, comprising Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties). Two Republicans, Philip Donohue and Linwood Donelson, will advance to the general election in November.

Democratic incumbents Louis Greenwald and Pamela Lampitt are challenged by Fredrick Dande in the 6th District, comprising Burlington and Camden counties. Two Republicans, Winston Extavour and David Moy, will advance to the general election in November.

Incumbent Herbert Conaway Jr., Jennifer Hiniu Chuang and Carol Murphy are running for two Democratic nominations in the 7th District in Burlington County. Republicans Octavia Scott and Mike Piper will advance to the general election.

Five Republicans are seeking two nominations in the 12th District, comprising Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. They are incumbents Robert Clifton and Ronald Dancer, Alex Robotin, John Sheard and Eleanor Walker. Two Democrats, Gene Davis and Nirav Patel, will advance to the November election.


Polls in New Jersey are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Anybody in line by 8 p.m. must be allowed to vote. If you suspect voter fraud, call the U.S. Attorney's Office hotline at (888) 636-6596.


You may want to take an umbrella to the polls. Patchy fog and a chance of showers possible before 9 a.m., then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between until 2 p.m. Showers are likely with a thunderstorm possible after 2 p.m. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 70. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.