New Jersey will hold a primary election next Tuesday, June 6, which means that today is the last day to submit a vote by mail ballot to the Essex County Clerk in Newark. The primaries are for the governor of New Jersey, state Senate and General Assembly, the Board of Chosen Freeholders and state party committees.
The most contested races are those for governor and the state Assembly district that includes Verona. In the governor’s race, six people are running for the Democratic nomination and five are seeking the Republican spot. NJSpotlight.com, an independent news source that covers state government and key New Jersey issues, has a comprehensive guide to the primaries that can help you get to know all the candidates.
The 26th state legislative district, which includes Verona, has primary challenges on both the Democratic and Republican sides. The Republican Party has controlled the district since 1981, and the current Republican incumbents are Assemblyman Jay Webber, who was first elected in 2007, and Assemblwoman BettyLou DeCroce, who was appointed to the Assembly in February 2012 after the death of her husband Alex DeCroce. Ms. DeCroce, who was subsequently was elected on her own, has not voted on several Assembly measures, including a state gun buyback measure (A2374), a measure to prohibit people convicted of certain crimes from owning firearms (A2443) and a bill to require attackers in domestic violence cases to surrender firearm while restraining orders in effect (A1211). DeCroce voted in favor of the gas tax last year. Webber, who voted against that tax, has campaigned this year on themes of tax relief and Second Amendment rights. He voted against A1211 and A2374, and also voted against A2750, which sought to prohibit employers paying women less than men for the same job. Both Webber and DeCroce oppose government funding for abortions and family planning.
They are being challenged in the Republican primary by Morris County Freeholders William “Hank” Lyon and John Cesaro. Lyon, who has been specifically targetting DeCroce in his campaign, wants to reverse the gas tax and New Jersey’s renewable energy mandate. He supports school vouchers and opposes the Common Core and PARCC testing. Cesaro wants to focus on bail reform and revising New Jersey’s public school funding formula.
There is also a contested primary on the Democratic ticket. Joseph Raich and E. William “Bill” Edge are being challenged for one of the two Democratic spots in the November general election by Verona resident Laura Fortgang. Democrats in Morris County, which accounts for the bulk of the NJ26th towns, held a convention two weeks before the primary election filing deadline and voted to put Raich and Edge on the top of the ballot. As a result, Fortgang’s name will be on line G in the voting booth. Raich ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly seat in 2001, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Neither Raich nor Edge, who has served on the Town Councils in Caldwell and Verona in the past, have campaign websites. Fortgang, whose campaign motto is “Common Sense, Common Ground”, wants an alternative to PARCC testing and has pledged to support women’s reproductive rights, Medicare and Medicaid, and what she calls “the good parts” of the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. An executive coach who is also a member of the Actors Equity union, she is pro-union and favors raising the minimum wage.
Registered Republican voters outnumber registered Democrats in the 26th legislative district, by 53,511 to 37,443, according to the most recent state Department of Elections report. But unaffiliated voters outnumber both parties at 63,957. If you are an unaffiliated voter and wish to vote Republican or Democrat in the primary you need only declare your choice at your polling place. (Registered Democrats and Republicans cannot change at the polls.) Polls will be open next Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find your polling place here.
A previous version of this story indicated that E. William Edge had previously run for state Assembly. He has not.