New Jersey Congressional Delegation Remains Split

New Jersey voters elected three new members of Congress on Tuesday, but kept the party split the same as last time: six Democrats and six Republicans.

The most closely watched and expensive race in the state was in the 3rd District, which stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore and was won by Republican Tom MacArthur.

MacArthur, a retired insurance executive who served as mayor of the northern New Jersey town of Randolph, put $5 million of his own money into the race against Democrat Aimee Belgard, a freeholder in Burlington County.

Independent groups, which could not legally coordinate campaign activities with the campaigns, put $3.5 million into the race.

The result of the spending was a barrage of character attacks on both candidates.

Democratic groups portrayed MacArthur as profiting from disasters. MacArthur used a little-viewed YouTube video from Belgard's 2010 freeholder campaign to portray her as breaking campaign promises.

The bitterness continued even after the results were in.

In a concession statement, Belgard said that the district still needs someone to advocate for issues she spoke about during the campaign, including equal pay for women, raising the federal minimum wage and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

In his statement, MacArthur did not name Belgard but referred to her campaign. "With our victory tonight, I am proud to say that the voters chose substance over sound bites, optimistic solutions over angry ideology," he said.

The others elected to their first terms in Congress are both Democratic state lawmakers who won open seats.

One, Bonnie Watson Coleman, is the first woman from New Jersey to be elected to federal office in 14 years and the first black woman ever to represent the state in Congress. She defeated Republican Alieta Eck in central New Jersey's 12th District.

The last woman to represent New Jersey in Congress was Republican Marge Roukema, who left office in 2003.

The other newly elected representative is Donald Norcross, a union official who also is the brother of one of the state's most powerful political figures.

Norcross' brother, George Norcross, is seen as a Democratic Party kingmaker though he has no official role in the party. George Norcross is an insurance executive, hospital board president and philanthropist.

Donald Norcross won both a regular and special election to represent the 1st Congressional District in the Philadelphia suburbs, defeating Republican Garry Cobb, who is best known as a former linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The regular election is full a full two-year term to begin in January. The special election is to join Congress before then — soon after the election is certified — to serve out the final weeks of the term of Rep. Rob Andrews, who resigned earlier this year.

No incumbents were ousted.

Polls during the run-up to the election had shown two of the races appeared to within reach for Democratic challengers. But results Tuesday showed that both Republican incumbents won handily. They were Scott Garrett, who defeated Roy Cho in northern New Jersey's 5th District; and Frank LoBiondo, who won over William Hughes Jr., in southern New Jersey's 2nd.

Other incumbents returning to Washington are Christopher Smith, a Republican in the 4th; Frank Pallone, a Democrat in the 6th; Leonard Lance, a Republican in the 7th; Albio Sires, a Democrat in the 8th;; Bill Pascrell, a Republican in the 9th; Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat in the 10th; and Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican in the 11th.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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