The Democratic Party has strengthened their hold in New Jersey, dominating in Bergen County and in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district. Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer was re-elected for a third term, beating his Republican opponent Frank Pallotta by around 15 points; in Bergen County, Gottheimer won by 22 points. Additionally, Democrats Joan M. Voss and former Ridgewood Mayor Ramon M. Hache have both been elected to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders by a combined 20 point margin.
These local victories for the left mirror the statewide trends of Republicans ceding ground in the New Jersey suburbs over the past four years. Three Democratic members of the NJ congressional delegation that flipped Republican seats in 2018, Mikie Sherrill, Andy Kim, and Tom Malinowski, have beat their 2020 opponents without much difficulty. President Trump is unfavorable among the majority of New Jersey voters, and the Republican Party of New Jersey has lost influence over the course of his presidency due to the current suburban blue shift that has been seen across the nation. Ridgewood follows this trend, and for the 2020 election, the Democratic candidates for President, House, and Senate won, just as they did in previous years.
Specific to Ridgewood, the election consolidation question passed with a twenty-point majority. The group advocating for this, “One Village One Vote,” succeeded in moving Ridgewood’s annual Board of Education elections, held in April, and the bi-annual Village Council elections, held in May, to the November General Election date. They are hoping for increased voter turnout for Board and Council elections, which they believe will encourage Ridgewood voters other than the most politically active voter population to finally cast their ballot in a local race. Opposition to this initiative was rooted in the argument that consolidating the elections would prevent Ridgewood voters from having a say in the school budget, since both the school budget and Board of Education elections have occurred in the springtime. Although the actual effects of this consolidation on the political dynamics and policies of Ridgewood elected officials remains to be seen, a majority of Ridgewood voters are in favor of consolidating the elections, which could indicate changing political dynamics for local races in future years.
State-wide, New Jersey approved three ballot questions, legalizing marijuana, approving a property tax deduction for veterans, and approving a procedural change in the redistricting calendar if census data is delayed. The legalization of recreational marijuana in the State of New Jersey is a major victory for Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, who has clashed with Senate Democratic Leader Steve Sweeney on the issue. Sweeney opposed legalizing the drug through legislative means, instead supporting a decision to be made by voters. The voters spoke, approving legalization by a two-to-one margin. This puts the Governor, who promised to legalize Marijuana in his 2017 campaign, in a very strong position ahead of his 2021 re-election fight.
On state and local issues, the results are definitely left-leaning. This is due to the polarization of the nation on lines of gender, race, and education which when paired with a rapidly diversifying suburban electorate, brings a major left-leaning agenda to New Jersey politics.
Photo: Logan Richman