N.J. Democrats Rout Republicans In Low Turnout Vote

TRENTON (AP) -

New Jersey voters delivered Democrats a victory in the general election Tuesday, expanding the party’s control in Trenton and picking up three new Assembly seats in a campaign that saw big spending from an outside group to help them.

Democrats, who have controlled the chamber for more than a decade, were helped along by General Majority PAC, largely funded by allies of the state’s biggest teacher’s union.

Democrats knocked two Republicans out of office in central New Jersey’s 11th District — putting Democrats in control there for the first time in more than a decade — and also took a seat away from the GOP in southern New Jersey’s 1st District.

“It’s a great day for the state of New Jersey,” Democrat Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said. “It shows that people like what we’ve been doing.”

All 80 seats in the Assembly were up for grabs Tuesday, the first time in 16 years the chamber was alone atop the ticket.

The Democrats’ victory is a defeat for Gov. Chris Christie and comes as he tries to persuade Republican presidential primary voters to make him the party’s standard bearer nationally.

New Jersey voters elected to shrink Republican ranks and put Assembly Democrats within striking distance of a veto-proof majority.

The losses also come after Senate Republicans sided with Democrats to override Christie’s veto of a bill dealing with mental health and guns.

In the biggest surprise of the night, Democrats Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling defeated Republican incumbent Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in New Jersey’s 11th District. It is a traditionally Republican district, which they’ve controlled since 1992.

But the contest had a low profile for most voters. A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll showed 75 percent were unaware of the election, and just 6 percent could correctly identify that the Assembly was on the ballot. Only 5.1 percent voted in Tuesday’s election, the lowest in at least 90 years.