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New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries

New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries
© Bonnie Cash

Incumbent Democrats in New Jersey trounced progressive challengers across House primaries Tuesday, two weeks after liberals appeared likely to have scored key victories in still undecided races in neighboring New York. 

Lawmakers in all primaries were either leading their challengers by substantial margins or outright clinched the Democratic nomination in their races Tuesday night despite a surge in mailed-in ballots that will continue to be accepted until next week.

The easy wins marked a contrast to New York, where progressive Jamaal Bowman was leading Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, by 25 points in an election that is still to be called. Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps Carolyn Maloney unveils gun safety legislation package MORE (D), chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was running neck-and-neck with Democratic challenger Suraj Patel.

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By contrast, no challenger got close in New Jersey.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D), who dropped out of the presidential race last year, easily dispatched progressive activist Lawrence Hamm, holding a nearly 80-point lead with over 32 percent of precincts reporting.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who had earned the ire of progressives over his refusal to embrace the Green New Deal, defeated Russ Cirincione, a government attorney, and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, an author who runs MuslimGirl.com.

Meanwhile, Rep. Albio SiresAlbio B. SiresCountering China's influence in the Caribbean with a second Caribbean Basin Initiative We can't lose sight of Ortega's abuses in Nicaragua Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (D), who raised eyebrows by going negative against his progressive challenger Hector Oseguera, won with 76 percent of the vote, while Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanNAACP, Rep. Bennie Thompson sue Trump, Giuliani over Capitol riot Fallen Capitol Police officer to lie in honor in Rotunda Over 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty MORE (D) easily prevailed in the 12th District.

A couple of races remained uncalled as of midnight on Wednesday, though in both cases the incumbents had built substantial leads, with Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Democrats urge IRS to extend tax-filing season MORE (D) leading by about 70 points and Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerBipartisan lawmakers call for immediate vote on COVID-19 vaccine distribution package Lawmakers say they are 'targets,' ask to boost security New Jersey lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package MORE (D) leading by nearly 40 points.

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The two Republicans in New Jersey's House delegation also easily fended off their challengers.

Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R) easily won his primary and is set to face off against Amy Kennedy, a former teacher and wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who defeated university professor Brigid Callahan Harrison in one of the most contentious Democratic primaries.

And Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget Here are the 11 Republicans who voted to remove Greene from House committees House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories MORE (R), who for a while was the only Republican in New Jersey's House delegation until Van Drew's party switch, won with 95 percent of the vote.