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When New Jersey voters head to the polls on Nov. 2, they’ll select not only a governor, but also every single one of the 120 lawmakers in the state Legislature.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - Gov. Phil Murphy, center, delivers his second State of the State address. before a joint session of the state Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the Statehouse in Trenton. Behind him are Craig Coughlin, left, Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly and Steve Sweeney, right, Senate President. © Michael Mancuso/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - Gov. Phil Murphy, center, delivers his second State of the State address. before a joint session of the state Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the Statehouse in Trenton. Behind him are Craig Coughlin, left, Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly and Steve Sweeney, right, Senate President.

Incumbents are favored to win the majority of seats in the two houses in Trenton — the state Senate and Assembly — that determine the state’s laws and passes the state budget. But there are some interesting things to watch for.

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A few Asian-American women are running, and whoever wins would be the first to hold office in New Jersey at the state level. There’s also a former U.S. Congressman famous for singing an ode to Kenneth Starr on the House floor during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and a member of a right-wing group in races for seats.

Some districts could swing from one party to another, but it’s unlikely Democrats will lose control of either chamber. They hold a 25 of 40 seats in the Senate, and 52 of 80 seats in the Assembly.

All the newly elected seats will be for two years. That’s the usual term for Assembly members, and state senators have four-year terms except at the beginning of the decade, when they serve two years because legislative districts will be redrawn for the next election to account for population shifts after the census. Each legislative district has two assembly members and one state senator.

Here are the most closely watched races in both the state Senate and state Assembly:

2nd District (parts of Atlantic County)

An open Senate seat is up for grabs, with Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, a Democrat, facing off against Republican Vince Polistina, a former assemblyman.

Sen. Chris Brown, a Republican, left the post in July to join Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration as a senior adviser on issues related to Atlantic City. He had already announced he would not seek re-election, but the premature departure has led to some tension.

Polistina has temporarily filled the seat, but Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has not called the chamber back to swear him into office. That would allow him to run as an incumbent against the Democratic challenger, potentially giving him an advantage.

In the Assembly, incumbent Democrat John Armato is running for another term alongside Democrat Caren Fitzpatrick, a county commissioner in Atlantic County. They’re facing off against Don Guardian, a one-term Atlantic City mayor, and Claire Swift, a former deputy Attorney General for the state, the Republican candidates.

This district has seen the most spending so far this election, becoming the costliest legislative race at $3.3 million as of Thursday, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

8th District (parts of Burlington and Camden counties)

This district will see incumbent state Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego try to keep her seat — but under a new party. She has served in the Senate for a decade, but changed from a Republican to a Democrat in early 2019.

Her opponent is former Burlington County Sheriff and Republican Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield. The race is likely to be a close one, and could show the extent the region is shifting from red to blue.

Both Assembly seats are open in this district, too, as Stanfield vies for the Senate and Assemblyman Ryan Peters steps back from politics.

Mark Natale, an attorney and Evesham’s Democratic chair, and Allison Eckel, a representative Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education, are the Democrats running. Hammoton Councilman Michael Torrissi and former Lumbertown Township administrator Brandon Umba will try to keep the two seats for the Republican party.

These races have seen big spending, too, totaling $2.8 million as of Thursday, according to ELEC.

16th District (parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties)

Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman announced he would retire from the Senate early this year, bringing an end to 28 years in the Statehouse.

Vying for the Republican’s seat is Andrew Zwicker, a Democrat who currently represents the 16th in the Assembly, and Michael Pappas, a one-term U.S. Congressman who represented New Jersey in the 1990s and became known for singing “Twinkle Twinkle, Kenneth Starr” on the House floor during former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1998.

Once a Republican stronghold, the district has become increasingly Democratic over the past decade thanks to redistricting that brought Princeton into its territory. Bateman won his last bid for the seat in 2016 by just 600 votes.

21st District (parts of Morris, Somerset, and Union counties)

Republican Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. is leaving behind his seat as he makes a second try to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski in the 7th Congressional District.

That leaves Republican Assemblyman Jon Bramnick running to take his place, hoping to move from the district’s lower chamber into the Senate. Bramnick, the state Assembly minority leader, explored a run to challenge Murphy in the governor’s race, but changed course in late 2020.

He will face Joseph Signorello, the mayor of Roselle Park since 2018. Signorello made headlines this summer as Roselle Park fought a homeowner who had displayed anti-Biden signs that included profanity. The American Civil Liberties Union stepped in to defend the women’s right to free speech.

With Bramnick’s seat open in the Senate, there’s room for another woman to the join the Legislature. Currently, women make up just under one-third of the Assembly.

Michele Matsikoudis, a New Providence borough council member is the Republican running. Two Democratic challengers, Elizabeth Graner, a teacher, and Anjali Mehrotra, president of National Organization for Women of New Jersey, are also vying for the seat. Mehrotra is one of several Asian-American women running this year, and could be the first to hold a seat in the Legislature.

Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz is running for another term. The moderate Republican has been vocal in support of COVID-19 vaccines and could replace Bramnick as the Assembly’s minority leader.

37th District (parts of Bergen County)

Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg — arguably the Legislature’s top progressive — is retiring this year, opening up her seat in Bergen County.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, a Democrat, and Michael Koontz are running to replace her, with Johnson favored to win. Koontz is a screenwriter who previously hosted a talk show.

But both Assembly seats are open here, too, after Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle lost a Democratic primary race to Johnson for the Senate seat. Shama Haider and Ellen Park are the Democrats running against Perley Patrick and Edward Durfee. Haider was a Tenafly councilwoman and now chairs the Democratic Party there. Park is a former Englewood Cliffs councilwoman.

It’s a controversial race. Durfree is a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group that federal officials say played a key role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Dufree was outside of the Capitol on that day, working security for the group. But he has not been charged with any crimes related to the insurrection.

If either of the Democrats win, they will be among the first Asian-American women elected to the state Legislature.

Click here for the state Senate candidates in each district.

Click here for the state Assembly candidates in each district.

NJ Advance Media staff writer i">>Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

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Amanda Hoover may be reached at i">>[email protected]. Follow her on Twitteri">> @amandahoovernj.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/the-entire-nj-legislature-is-up-for-grabs-on-election-day-here-are-the-races-to-watch/ar-AAPRScp

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