Decision 2020

Major Local, Congressional Races Remain Undecided in Pa., NJ

Jeff Van Drew (left) and Amy Kennedy (right).
Getty Images/Amy Kennedy campaign

While the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has grabbed most of the headlines, there are also some very important local races happening on Election Night.

Local politics have a huge effect on people’s lives, often more so than do national politics. NBC10 is tracking some of the most important local races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, which you can view below.

U.S. House of Representatives, Pa. 1st District:

This district covers parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties and sees Republican incumbent, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, trying to ward off Democratic challenger Christina Finello.

Fitzpatrick has represented the 1st District since 2016 and was ranked as the most independent lawmaker in Congress by Georgetown University’s Lugar Center. The Republican lawmaker is also part of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers” caucus in Washington and has bucked his party by voting against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Finello has degrees in law and clinical psychology and a background as director of the Bucks County Division of Housing and Human Services. She, too, champions a bipartisan approach, having been appointed by a Republican administration, though she has criticized Fitzpatrick as being too closely tied to the president and contributing to the “chaos” in Washington.

U.S. House of Representatives, Pa. 7th District:

Democrat Susan Wild is pitted against Republican challenger Lisa Scheller in the district covering parts of Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton counties.

Wild serves on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has focused on protecting health care, as well as Social Security, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Wild says she believes the country should move toward a universal health care system but protect the ACA in the meantime.

Scheller served two years as chairwoman of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners and has a background in business. The Republican boasts about having never been “afraid of a fight” and wants to “get our economy moving again and hold corrupt politicians accountable.” Scheller says people with preexisting conditions should be protected, but that the ACA should be replaced.

U.S. House of Representatives, NJ 2nd District:

This local race has garnered lots of national attention, largely because of newly Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew. The 2nd District includes Salem, Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic counties, as well as parts of Gloucester, Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.

Van Drew assumed office as a Democrat in 2019, but in the switcheroo heard ‘round the country, he changed parties, joining the Republican side after refusing to impeach President Trump and pledging his “undying support” to him. Van Drew’s switch earned him Trump’s highly publicized backing but has also made him a prime target for Democrats who feel he betrayed the voters who got him into Congress in the first place.

Democrat Amy Kennedy, a former school teacher who married into the famed Kennedy political family, is using Van Drew’s switch as a prime focus in her campaign to unseat him. In keeping with his support for the president, Van Drew has praised Trump’s response to the coronavirus, while Kennedy has criticized what she described as a lack of a comprehensive response to the pandemic.

U.S. House of Representatives, NJ 3rd District:

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim is working to keep the seat he narrowly won in New Jersey’s 3rd District, which includes most of Burlington County and parts of Ocean County.

Both he and Republican challenger David Richter have pledged to help families and small businesses hurt during the pandemic. Where they differ in that regard is how they view the proposed federal stimulus package.

Kim has backed the $2 trillion bill proposed by the House of Representatives, but Richter has said he would back a smaller Republican proposal instead, criticizing the Democratic bill as including items not related to COVID-19. As it stands, lawmakers in the Democratically controlled House remain deadlocked with their counterparts in the Republican-controlled Senate over how to administer a second round of economic stimulus.

NJ Ballot Question: Legalizing Marijuana

New Jersey residents voted to make the state only the 12th in the country to legalize recreational marijuana. Advocates touted the potential for tax revenue, jobs and restorative justice if pot is legalized, but there are no specifics about what changes would be immediately implemented if legalization happens. For example, the state doesn’t have a legislative guarantee that arrests for pot possession could stop immediately.

U.S. Senate, Delaware:

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons held on to the seat he has held since 2010. He has been highly critical of the Trump administration, including its response to COVID-19, and more recently he has criticized his Republican colleagues for fast-tracking the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. He is a vocal supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden, the one-time occupant of Coon’s current seat.

Coons ran against Lauren Witzke, a hardline political newcomer who wants to stop immigration to the U.S. for 10 years. In addition for calling for the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, the Republican frequently promotes far-right conspiracy theories like big tech companies interfering in the election. She has also been tied to the baseless and debunked QAnon conspiracy theory but has more recently denounced her past support of the group, which the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorist threat.

Governor, Delaware:

NBC News projected John Carney to retain his post as Delaware governor shortly after polls closed Tuesday night. Carney was being challenged by Republican Julianne Murray in a race largely centered on the state’s response to COVID-19.

He has defended coronavirus restrictions while Murray urged the reopening of businesses. While Carney has echoed public health guidance in asking people to wear masks in order to slow the spread of the virus, Murray says masks should be voluntary and has repeated false claims that COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu.

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