On June 6, 2017, New Jersey held its statewide primary.

While there were several legislative districts with contested seats, the most watched race both in NJ and the larger region was the Gubernatorial primary. The outcome of this race would decide which candidate would receive their respective party’s nomination to square off in November to succeed outgoing Governor Chris Christie. In addition to the Gubernatorial primary, several legislative seats were challenged. It has been referred to as one of the largest fields the state has seen in a dozen years, with far more contested seats than two years ago.

Gubernatorial Primary

Four Democrats and two Republicans sought their respective party’s nomination for governor. A Quinnipiac University poll released in May 2017 showed Democrat Phil Murphy, former ambassador to Germany, and Republican Kim Guadagno, lieutenant governor, as clear favorites to succeed Chris Christie.

Indeed, the election played out just as anticipated, with Ambassador Murphy (48.3%) and Lt. Governor Guadagno (46.8%) receiving their party’s nominations:

Republican Primary       Democratic Primary    
Kim Guadagno 112,899 46.80% Philip Murphy 240,279 48.30%
Jack Ciattarelli 75,018 31.1 Jim Johnson 109,086 21.9
Hirsh Singh 23,634 9.8 John Wisniewski 107,661 21.6
Joseph Rullo 15,714 6.5 Raymond Lesniak 24,092 4.8
Steven Rogers 14,085 5.8 William Brennan 11,122 2.2
Mark Zinna 5,127 1

Contested Legislative (Assembly and Senate) Races

In addition to the gubernatorial primary, nine Legislative Districts had contested Senate elections: the 7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 24th, 35th, 37th and 40th; and fifteen Legislative Districts had contested Assembly races: the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 31st, 37th and 40th.

All told, a total of 278 candidates were on the ballot for state Senate and Assembly seats, resulting in over 20 contested primaries in New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts. It has been referred to as one of the largest fields the state has seen in a dozen years, with far more contested seats than two years ago.

We have compiled a breakdown of select races as follows:


LD-7: Assemblyman Troy Singleton ran uncontested in the Democratic primary for the district’s Senate seat, which is being vacated by retiring Republican Diane Allen. Singleton will face Riverside Committeeman Rob Prisco, who ran uncontested in the GOP primary.

LD-12: In the Republican primary for Senate in LD-12 incumbent Samuel Thompson with 60% of the vote defeated his long time rival and challenger, Art Haney, chairman of the Old Bridge Republican organization.

LD-13: In the Democratic primary for Senate in LD-12, Sean Byrnesdefeated Joshua Leinsdorf with 93% of the vote. Byrnes will face Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon in the race to replace retiring Senator Joe Kryillos.

LD-14: In the Republican primary for Senate in LD-14, Ilena Schirmer defeated Bruce MacDonald with 81% of the vote.

LD-17: In the Democratic primary in LD-14, incumbent Senator Bob Smith defeated challenger William Irwin with 72% of the vote. Irwin, the President of the Piscataway school board and a progressive activist, unsuccessfully attempted to capitalize on momentum seen by other “outsider” candidates.

LD-24: In the Republican primary in LD-24, incumbent Senator Steven Oroho
successfully defended his seat against challenger William Haveden, receiving 75% of the vote. The district–among North Jersey’s most Conservative–saw the Gas Tax as a major issue in the race by the challenger. Fortunately for incumbent Oroho, this did not resonate with voters.

LD-35: In the Democratic primary for LD-35, Senator Nellie Pouhandily defeated her challenger, Haytham Younes, with 95% of the vote. Senator Pou is currently the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and serves on the Senate Higher Education and Judiciary committees.

LD-37: In the Republican primary for LD-37, Modesto Romerodefeated Eric Fisher with 53% of the vote. Romero will go on to face Senator Loretta Weinberg in the General Election. Weinberg is incredibly popular in this heavily Democratic district.

LD-40: Both the Assembly and Senate primaries in LD 40 are considered some of the most interesting in the state. For the GOP senate primary, Kristin Corrado (62%) defeated Paul DiGaetano (30%) and Edward Buttimore (38%) to succeed retiring Senator Kevin O’Toole.


LD-1: The race for LD-1’s Assembly seats saw James Sauro and Robert Campbell defeat Brian McDowell in the GOP Primary. The race, which includes parts of Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties, including the city of Cape May, received statewide attention because of a cellphone video of a drunken McDowell making inappropriate comments towards a woman at a bar.

LD-2: In the Democratic Primary for LD-2, incumbent Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo, and John Armato defeated a large field of four other candidates to receive their party’s nomination. Republican Assemblyman Chris A. Brown is running for retiring Senator Jim Whelan’s seat.

LD-3: The Democratic incumbents in LD-3, Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro both retained their seats with 46% of the vote against challenger John Kalnas.

LD-6: In South Jersey’s 6th Legislative District, incumbents Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald retained their seats with 44% and 43% of the vote, respectively. Both Lampitt and Greenwald defeated challenger Frederick Dande and will not face opposition in the fall.

LD-7: In the 7th Legislative District, incumbent Assemblyman Herb Conaway retained his seat, while Carol Murphy defeated Jennifer Chuang for the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, who ran for Senate.

LD-11: In the 11th Legislative District, both Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling retained their seats.

LD-12: In the 12th Legislative District GOP primary, incumbent Assemblymen Ronald Dancer and Robert Clifton retained their seats against 3 challengers including Debbie Walker, Alex Robotin, and John Sheard.

LD-15: In the Democratic Primary in LD-15, Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora retained their seats.

LD-17: In the Democratic Primary in LD-17 incumbent Assemblymen Joseph Egan and Joseph Danielsen both fended off progressive challengers Heather Fenyk and Ralph Johnson.

LD-22: In the Democratic Primary in LD-22, incumbent Assemblymen James Kennedy and Jerry Green both retained their seats.

LD-24: In the Democratic Primary in LD-24, Kate Matteson and Gina Trish received the party’s nomination. Matteson and Trish will face off against Republicans Assemblyman Parker Space, and newcomer Harold Wirths in the fall.

LD-26: In the Republican primary in LD-26, incumbents Assemblyman Jay Webber and Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce retained their nominations and will face off against Democratic challengers William Edge and Joseph Raich. In the GOP primary, Assemblywoman fought off challengers Hank Lyon and John Cesaro, both Morris County Freeholders, who criticized her for her support of the Gas Tax.

LD-31: In the Democratic primary for LD-31, incumbents Assemblywoman Angela McKnight and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti retained their seats.

LD-37: For the Republican primary in LD-37, Gina Tessaro and Angela Hendricks received their party’s nomination for Assembly. They will face off against Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle. 

LD-40: The Assembly primary for LD-40 was just as heated as the Senate primary. For the GOP, incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Rooney held on to his seat, along with former Wykoff mayor Christopher DePhillips. Rooney and DePhillips ran as a slate with Kristin Corrado, defeating former State Senator Norman Robertson and Joseph Bubba.