Breaking down the races as voters gear up for Tuesday’s NJ primary elections

New Jersey’s primary election will be held on Tuesday.
Republicans and Democrats will decide who gets to run in all 12 of New Jersey's congressional seats, plus local races including the Monmouth County commissioner primary and Newark city council runoffs.
“These are all going to be races that are going to be decided by a few thousand votes, so anything can happen,” says Micah Rasmussen, of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics.
After coming just 5,000 votes away from winning a congressional seat in 2020, Tom Kean, Jr. is back in the race against Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. But Kean must win the Republican primary first against a gauntlet of former President Donald Trump supporters. This includes the runner-up in last year’s Republican primary for governor – Phil Rizzo.
“It’s a little bit fractured, it’s a little disorganized,” Rasmussen says. “It’s going to mean it diminishes the ability of any of them to break through.”
Republican Rep. Chris Smith is looking to fend off two challengers who responded to Trump's call to go against Republicans like Smith who voted for President Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
“One of the absolute keys to winning a primary against a long-term incumbent is that you've got to catch them unaware, you've got to catch them by surprise. That's never going to happen with Chris Smith,” Rasmussen says.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s son Robert Menendez Jr. is running for Congress on the Democratic side. He faces two primary challengers. Menendez Jr. is widely expected to win the primary and the general election – increasing Hudson County’s power in Washington.
“The father is able to transfer the strong political assets that he's got to the son in a way that we will probably not get the chance for voters to say whether or not they like it or not,” Rasmussen says. “He's able to transfer the fundraising prowess, the organizational strength, the name recognition.”
Around 20,000 people voted early and in person over the weekend. Nearly 250,000 have voted by mail.
Polls open at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.