2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Andrews, LoBiondo, Smith Win Primary Challenges

In Senate race, Kyrillos defeats 3 newcomers for GOP nomination

By Angela Delli Santi
|  Tuesday, Jun 5, 2012  |  Updated 11:43 PM EDT
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Andrews, LoBiondo, Smith Win Primary Challenges

Southern NJ incumbent Reps. Andrews, LoBiondo win primary election challenges. Republican State Sen. Joe Kyrillos will take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in the Nov. general election.

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U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell won a bitter battle of incumbents Tuesday, besting fellow congressman Steve Rothman in the Democratic primary in New Jersey's newly drawn 9th District.

Donald Payne Jr. defeated five other challengers to win a Democratic primary to succeed his late father in Congress. He also won a special election to finish out the 12th term of his father, who died in March.

Republicans statewide picked state Sen. Joe Kyrillos to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in November.

Republican Mitt Romney -- who had already secured the support needed to win the GOP nomination -- won the state at the top of the ticket. He had faced three challengers who withdrew from the race but whose names still appeared on the ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

The state's marquee primary on the Democratic side pitted Pascrell against Rothman in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties. The district was reconfigured this year as a result of population changes that are costing the state a seat in the House, shrinking New Jersey's representation to 12 after November.

“We did it,” Pascrell said in a victory speech. “My parents always taught me not to start fights but to know how to end them. Tonight we did just that.”

In a concession speech, Rothman called Pascrell his friend and said he would help the Democratic ticket in the fall.

Pascrell, 75, got a helping hand from former President Bill Clinton in the final days of the campaign, while Rothman, 59, got one from President Barack Obama.

In the other competitive House primary, voters in Essex, Hudson and Union counties chose to send Payne, the Newark City Council president and an Essex County officeholder, to Washington to assume the seat of his late father. Donald Payne Sr., New Jersey's first black representative, held New Jersey's 10th Congressional District seat.

Payne Jr. beat out fellow Newark Councilman Ron Rice, state Sen. Nia Gill and three others challengers.

Payne said he ran because he knew best what his late father wanted for the people of the district.

“I'm trying to do the things I saw my father do over the past 23 years,” Payne said.

He had the party line on the ballot in Essex County, where more than 65 percent of voters reside. Gill had the line in Hudson, where about a fifth of the electorate live. Union Democrats didn't endorse a primary candidate.

The winners in the two House races are practically guaranteed November victories in the solidly Democratic districts.

Kyrillos, who has served in the New Jersey Legislature for 24 years, faced three little-known challengers in the race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Menendez, a Democratic incumbent now in his second term, was unopposed in the primary.

Menendez said his campaign will focus on the state's middle-class residents – “not about bringing the powerful down, but raising the middle-class up.”

Kyrillos said policies that Menendez supports have led to a struggling economy, unemployment and soaring national debt, and the election will present a clear choice for voters.

“Some would use much harsher words, but even Democrats think that Bob Menendez is mediocre. Bob Menendez is a mediocre senator. We deserve much better.”

Menendez had banked $9.4 million and Kyrillos $1.4 million as of the most recent federal reporting deadline. Besides needing to raise more money, Kyrillos faces the challenge of having to build greater name recognition. An opinion poll last month found 75 percent of respondents didn't know him.

In the 7th District, encompassing Hunterdon County, two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance of Clinton Township was expected to fend off a challenge by conservative David Larsen of Oldwick for the GOP nomination.

In the 6th District, in the Monmouth-Middlesex area, Tea Party favorite Anna Little hoped to win the GOP primary and the right to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone in November, as she did two years ago.

In the 3rd District, Democrat Shelley Adler was unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination and the right to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman, who also had no opposition. Alder is the widow of former U.S. Rep. John Adler, who Runyan beat two years ago.

Incumbent Democrats Rob Andrews in the 1st District and Albio Sires in the 8th and incumbent Republicans Frank LoBiondo in the 2nd District, Chris Smith in the 4th District, Scott Garrett in the 5th and Leonard Lance in the 7th won their party primaries.

Republican Anna Little won a rematch against Rep. Frank Pallone in the 6th District.

Three legislative districts -- the 4th, 16th and 26th -- had primaries Tuesday for unexpired terms in the state Assembly. In the 26th, Republican Betty Lou DeCroce, widow of the former Assembly leader, won.

Complete Decision 2012 primary election results here.

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