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Democrats Are Coming Back

Justin Oei, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday morning, citizens of New Jersey and Virginia woke up to find that they had new governors, councilmen, state senators, and everything in between. What was new was that many formerly Republican seats were now held by Democrats in an effort to rebuff the Trumpian dynamic of government. Notable upsets ranged from the small (such as Peapack-Gladstone’s election of Councilwoman Amy Dietrich, a Democrat) to the notable, including the first election and seating of an openly transgender state legislator, Danica Roem from Virginia.

If we were to speak purely about Jersey politics, the gubernatorial results — while welcome — were predictable. It is no surprise that Kim Guadagno, a politician closely connected with the Christie administration, lost to Phil Murphy, the candidate with the blessing of state Democratic officials. Murphy plans to restore both the spirit of progressivism that has long been a hallmark of New Jersey and the reputation of excellence lost under Governor Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. On a local level, Democrats made significant inroads into local offices formerly all but guaranteed for Republicans. In the northern expanse of Somerset County, long a Republican bastion, Democrats ran competitive races in many municipalities and even won a seat in rural Peapack-Gladstone Borough with their candidate, Amy Dietrich. Sarah Booth and Joan Harris of Bernards Township (both D) lost by only a few hundred votes to incumbent John Carpenter and his running mate James Baldassare; State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R) kept his seat by only a few hundred votes. And in our very own Summit, the Little/Gould/Fox ticket (D) swept control of the city council.

While these down-ballot races always seem insignificant, they can prove to be a microcosm of what is to come in the 2018 midterms and in the 2020 election — Democrats might just regain control of the legislative branch of our government. Strategists on both sides are analyzing what can be done to turn key constituencies in next year’s midterms. We must remember that just a few years ago, Gladstone, Basking Ridge, and Summit — and the surrounding locales — were all but guaranteed Republican seats. It is refreshing that the Democratic Party has been able to prove competitive in these areas and might prove a dangerous sign for embattled local incumbents Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) and Tom MacArthur (R-03). Frelinghuysen and MacArthur have toed the Trump line day in and day out, at times voting against their constituents; their colleague Leonard Lance (R-07) has, at the very least, shown some disagreement with Trump on key issues in line with his constituents.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia map — 2017 NJ election

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