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AP News Guide: A look at New Jersey’s elections

November 4, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this March 22, 2019, file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the Compassionate Care Foundation's grow house in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. New Jersey's ballot question on legalizing recreational marijuana has led to more than $2 million in fund raising by interest groups, the state Election Law Enforcement Commission said Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
FILE - In this March 22, 2019, file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the Compassionate Care Foundation's grow house in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. New Jersey's ballot question on legalizing recreational marijuana has led to more than $2 million in fund raising by interest groups, the state Election Law Enforcement Commission said Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Democrats Joe Biden and Cory Booker emerged victorious Tuesday in New Jersey.

Results are now coming after millions cast mail-in ballots for president, Senate, House and three ballot questions more than a month ago.

The biggest ballot question - whether to approve recreational marijuana - passed Tuesday.

COVID-19 led Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to upend traditional voting by sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters.

The presidential race between Biden and incumbent Republican Donald Trump, and the U.S. Senate race, weren’t expected to be close in New Jersey. And they weren’t. Biden easily won the state, and Booker won a second full term, defeating Republican Rik Mehta.

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One House race remained too early to call: Incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew is seeking to keep his seat against Democrat Amy Kennedy.

This year’s election is unique because it’s being conducted mostly by mail-in ballots.

A closer look at this year’s most watched races:

PRESIDENT

Democrat Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump in New Jersey.

Biden, the former vice president, won New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes Tuesday, continuing Democrats’ stranglehold on the state. Republicans haven’t won in New Jersey since 1988. Despite the president’s ties to New Jersey, he was never expected to carry the state.

Trump owns golf clubs in Bedminster, Colts Neck and Pine Hill. He also operated now-defunct casinos in Atlantic City. The president regularly stays at his Bedminster club throughout the summer.

U.S. SENATE

New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker has easily won a second full term in the U.S. Senate.

Booker defeated Republican Rik Mehta, a business executive with a law degree and a doctorate in pharmacy.

Booker ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for president this year. While he lost the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden, Booker had a lock on Democratic support in the state, winning Gov. Phil Murphy’s endorsement.

His victory cements New Jersey as a Democratic stronghold.

The last Republican elected to the Senate was Clifford Case in 1972.

Booker won a special election in 2013 after the death of Democrat Frank Lautenberg. He won his first full term in 2014.

MARIJUANA BALLOT QUESTION

New Jersey voters said yes to an amendment Tuesday legalizing recreational marijuana.

The ballot question means that New Jersey will join the District of Columbia and a dozen other states to legalize cannabis. Arizona also voted to approve recreational marijuana on Tuesday.

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Under the amendment, only those 21 and older could legally buy and use the drug.

It’s unclear when cannabis will be available because legislation must first be passed in order to set up the new marijuana market.

But it’s expected to move relatively quickly because the Democrat-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy supported legalization.

HOUSE DISTRICT 2

This is perhaps the most closely watched race in the state. Incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew gained national attention when he abandoned the Democratic Party in December and became a Republican, saying he couldn’t support impeachment of the president. He pledged his “undying support” to Trump during an Oval Office meeting and in January hosted the president in Wildwood for a rally.

That was before the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, Van Drew has been locked in a tight race against Democratic opponent Amy Kennedy, a former public school teacher. She’s also the spouse of former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The southern New Jersey district encompasses all or part of eight counties and supported Trump in 2016, though it backed Democrat Barack Obama in his two presidential runs.

HOUSE DISTRICT 3

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim won a second term Tuesday, defeating his GOP rival David Richter in southern New Jersey.

Kim was a political newcomer when he knocked off Republican Tom MacArthur in 2018 by a slim margin, and campaigned on making health care affordable in the Burlington and Ocean county-based 3rd District.

Trump carried the district four years ago before Kim ousted MacArthur, who was a key author of the GOP’s failed health care plan.

Richter is a former executive at Hill International, and had originally planned to run against Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the 2nd District, but changed his mind and districts when Van Drew became a Republican.

HOUSE DISTRICT 7

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski won a second term in the U.S. House in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Malinowski defeated Republican Tom Kean Jr.

Kean serves as the Republican minority leader in the state Senate, and is the son of former popular GOP Gov. Tom Kean Sr. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006, losing to Democrat Bob Menendez.

Malinowski defeated Republican Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018, when Democrats regained controlled of the House.

He’s criticized the president and supported impeaching President Donald Trump in 2019.

The 7th District includes parts of Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Warren and Union counties.

HOUSE DISTRICT 11

Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill has defeated her Republican opponent to win re-election in New Jersey.

Sherrill won her second term Tuesday, defeating GOP attorney Rosemary Becchi.

She won the seat in 2018 after Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen retired. The district had been a longtime Republican stronghold, but began to change, particularly under Republican President Donald Trump.

Sherrill voted for the articles of impeachment against Trump in 2019, and centered her campaign on health care, particularly on protecting pre-existing conditions coverage.

The northern New Jersey district covers parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties.

OTHER HOUSE DISTRICTS

In the state’s other eight House districts, Democrats sought to defend seven seats and succeeded.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith, the only other Republican besides Van Drew, won his 21st term in the House, beating Democrat Stephanie Schmid and three other candidates.

Democratic incumbents Donald Payne Jr. and Albio Sires won on Tuesday, Payne for a sixth term and Sires for a ninth.

Democrats Donald Norcross, Bill Pascrell and Bonnie Watson Coleman also won. Norcross is headed for his fourth full term, as is Watson Coleman. Pascrell won a 12th term on Tuesday.

Democrat incumbent Josh Gottheimer beat his GOP rival to win a third term.

Democrat Frank Pallone won an 18th term against his Republican challenger.

ATLANTIC CITY MAYOR

Marty Small, the Democratic incumbent, was leading in incomplete totals reported by the county clerk’s office, which said no additional results would be released Tuesday night. Small was running for the final year of his predecessor’s unexpired term. He was being challenged by Republican Tom Forkin. The winner will presumably run again next year for a full four-year term. It’s a time of upheaval in the seaside gambling resort, struggling with the coronavirus pandemic that has kept casinos restricted to 25% of capacity. The city also remains under state control under a takeover law approved by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.

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This article has been corrected to show Rep. Chris Smith’s challenger is Stephanie Schmid, not Scmid.