Democrats and Republicans in Bergen County split the evening with Republican Scott Garrett successfully defending his Congressional seat against first time candidate Roy Cho, and Jim Tedesco defeating incumbent County Executive Kathleen Donovan. David Ganz and Joan Voss won reelection for their two Board of Freeholder seats which will keep the Democrats’ 5-2 advantage on the board. Freshman Senator Cory Booker and longtime Congressman Bill Pascrell also cruised to re-election.
On the national level, Republicans kept their majority in the House and picked up at least another 10 seats, including Lee Zeldin, who will represent New York’s 1st district and have the distinction of being the only Jewish Republican in Congress. The GOP also retook the Senate for the first time since the Democratic wave of 2006, with at least 52 seats. Two more seats appear poised to turn red too: Dan Sullivan leads incumbent Democrat Mark Begich in Alaska, and the runoff election in Louisiana, held in December, will almost certainly be decided in favor of Bill Cassidy over incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu.
While the Garrett win is not much of a surprise, he was leading by eleven points in the last Monmouth University poll before the election, it demonstrates the tight hold he has on the district, even with the additions of the deep blue areas of Bergen County. It was thought that a candidate like Roy Cho, with no prior political baggage, would appeal to voters in both the Democratic areas of Bergen County and the Republican areas of Sussex and Warren counties. The Democrats also invested time and money into the race, which they did not in 2012 when Adam Gussen was the nominee. But the results were the same: a Garret victory of about 13 points. While there are never any guarantees in politics, and the 2016 presidential election will almost certainly play a significant factor in the next election cycle, it seems like Garrett will be representing Fair Lawn, Bergenfield and parts of Teaneck for years to come.
But don’t forget about Cho just yet. In his concession speech he said that while he may have lost this round, he “will not stop fighting.”
The Tedesco victory indicates though that Bergen County is still consistently Democratic. His 53% of the vote is not an overwhelming victory, but it is a resounding one. The re-election of his running mates, David Ganz and Joan Voss, to the Freeholder Board ensures that the Democrats will retain control of the board as well. The two groups will likely work quickly to implement their agenda, which as The Link reported a few weeks ago, will include: new educational programs, investment in infrastructure and improved access to public transportation. His first priority, however, will be the consolidation of the sheriff’s department and the Bergen County Police Department.
Both ballot initiatives passed as well. The depleted open space fund will receive new streams of revenue to continue to purchase and preserve open spaces, which will help to protect against over-development and flooding. For now, the increased funding will come from revenue collected from the state Corporation Business Tax. Although the proposal was supported by most environmentalists, there are some who believe that this will divert valuable resources away from other necessary programs. The Governor opposed the proposition also, on grounds that it would be too restrictive on the budget. Christie did support the initiative to change eligibility for bail, which can now be withheld from defendants who are considered a flight risk, dangerous, or a threat to obstruct justice. The change will go into effect beginning in 2017.
New Jersey is one of the few remaining states to hold its state elections in odd numbered years. So as one election season comes to a close, within just a few months the next one will begin again.
By Zachary Schrieber