The highest number of congressional candidates since 1974 filed for the June primary in New Jersey.
With the redrawing of new districts and Democratic incumbents looking vulnerable in November’s midterm election year, the New Jersey Division of Elections unofficial count listed 63 New Jerseyans—41 Republicans and 22 Democrats—as having filed petitions to run in the June 7 primaries to win their parties’ nominations in the state’s 12 congressional districts as of the April 4 Monday filing deadline. In 1974, 70 candidates were running in the state’s 15 congressional districts.
In North Jersey alone, there are 35 candidates running to be their party’s nominee in the 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Congressional Districts. Below is a capsule of those races.
5th Congressional District
Democrats: Rep. Josh Gottheimer is the only candidate for the primary. Seeking a fourth term, Gottheimer won the 2020 race by a 7.6% margin. The Wyckoff resident, who starts the year with $11 million to spend for his campaign, faced a primary challenge from the progressive wing of the party in 2020 from former Glen Rock Councilwoman Arati Kreibich but none came forward this year.
Republicans: A total of five candidates filed to be the GOP nominee. Nick DeGregorio, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is considered the front runner after securing the Bergen County party line as well as receiving backing from key House Republican political actions committees. Investment banker Frank Pallotta, who lost to Gottheimer in 2020, will have the line in the other two counties in the 5th—Passaic and Essex. The third candidate to create buzz in the race is Cresskill businessman Fred Schneiderman as he has assembled a campaign team that includes former President Donald Trump aide Kellyanne Conway and Jamestown Associates, a top-tier Republican media firm that has created TV ads for both of Trump’s presidential campaigns and for dozens of successful U.S. Senate, gubernatorial and congressional races. Rounding out the choices on the ballot are Sab Skenderi of Wyckoff, running on the slogan “End Vaccine Mandates, Deport Illegal Aliens,” and Oakland’s Richard Franolich under the “Truth in Government” banner.
7th Congressional District
Democrats: Rep. Tom Malinowski will defend his seat in seeking a third term in a map redrawn that is much less friendly to Dems. Malinowski, after defeating Tom Kean, Jr., by 5,000 votes in 2020, is one of the top targets by Republicans in their efforts to win back the House. Malinowski is facing a primary challenge from Roger Bacon, the self-described Trump Democrat whose slogan is “Putting America and American’s Rights First!”
Republicans: Sensing an opportunity with the new map, six Republicans have declared their intentions to challenge Malinowski. The favorite is Kean, Jr., son of the former governor, who has secured organization lines in Union, Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris and Warren, and the organization slogan in Sussex. Among the stronger challengers are Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-23), a conservative who led the Republican rebellion in December 2021 against COVID-19 health protocols in the Statehouse, and businessman Jon Henry Isemann, who finished second in a run off for the Morris County GOP endorsement. Other candidates in the race are Fredon Mayor John Flora, who originally declared to run in the 5th District but switched after his town was placed in CD7; Phil Rizzo, a former pastor and real estate developer who ran for governor in 2021; Sterling Irwin Schwab, a U.S. Navy veteran from Flemington; and Kevin Dorlon, a licensed public works contractor from Long Valley.
8th Congressional District
Democrats: With the retirement of Rep. Albio Sires, lawmakers on the local, state and federal level quickly backed Robert J. Menendez, a Port Authority commissioner and the son of Sen. Bob Menendez, for the seat previously held by his father. Four candidates plan to challenge the younger Menendez—Ane Roseborough-Eberhard, Brian Varela, David Ocampo Grajales and Eugene D. Mazo. A teacher in the Weehawken Township School District for a decade, Roseborough-Eberhard served on the the Amistad Commission that was tasked with ensuring that Black history is part of the New Jersey public school curriculum in 2017. Varela is a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie, working in Christie’s communications and press shop during his first year as governor in 2010. Grajales is running on a progressive platform such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
Republicans: Marcos Arroyo was the only candidate to submit paperwork to be his party’s nominee in the majority Hudson County district.
9th Congressional District
Democrats: Rep. Bill Pascrell, who turned 85 on Jan. 25, will run for his 14 term in office. Pascrell was first elected in 1996 from the old 8th district, defeating incumbent William J. Martini. He has represented the 9th since 2012 after winning a primary against incumbent Rep. Steve Rothman.
Republicans: Paterson native Billy Prempeh, a U.S. Air Force veteran who ran against Pascrell in 2020, will be his party’s nominee again. First-time candidate Patrick Quinn, a realtor who had been running in the 11th when redistricting moved his hometown to the 9th, had contested Prempeh in the battle for he party lines in Bergen and Passaic but did not submit any papers to be on the ballot for the June primary.
10th Congressional District
Democrats: The real election for this seat will happen in the primary set for June 7. The seat has been occupied by a Payne since 1988—first by Rep. Donald Payne and then by his son, Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. after the passing of his father in 2012. Payne will face primary challengers: Imani Oakley, who has had multiple jobs in politics over the last few years including Legislative Director for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance; and Akil Khalfani, a sociology professor at Essex County College who ran as an independent in 2020.
Republicans: Jersey City’s Garth Stewart and Irvington’s David H. Pinckney submitted paperwork to be on the ballot this June. Pinckney cited having the backing of the Essex County Republican Party Organization, Inc. for the primary.
11th Congressional District
Democrats: Rep. Mikie Sherrill officially launched her re-election campaign April 2 with a rally at her Bloomfield Avenue campaign headquarters in West Caldwell. “In 2017 when I started to run and in 2018 when we were all coalescing around what we needed to do to flip this seat, we brought the nation along with us,” said the two-term congresswoman from CD-11. “So when I hear people say, ‘I don’t know if we’re on the right track,’ or worry about how we’re going to keep the House, I know exactly where to point them.” A seat held by a Republican since 1984 before Sherrill won in 2018, the newly written district was a plus 10 for President Joe Biden.
Republicans: The field has been whittled down to five for the GOP. The frontrunner is Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, who secured the Morris County line after defeating former Kinnelon Councilman Larry Casha on a second ballot, as well as the Essex County line. Paul DeGroot, a former assistant Passaic County prosecutor, received that county’s line. Iraq War veteran Toby Anderson filed as well as two candidates who only recently announced their intentions to run—Ruth McAndrew and Alexander Halter. Those that dropped out of the race include Casha; former Ridgefield Park Councilman Robert Kovic, who now lives in Sussex County; attorney Larry Friscia; and screenwriter Hillery Brotschol. Two names notable for passing on running this year: Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25) and 2020 nominee Rosemary Becchi.