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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 EngelMeet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair 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 Bosher MaloneyHouse Democrats subpoena private prison operator in forced hysterectomy case Overnight Health Care: Biden team to begin getting COVID briefings | Fauci says he would 'absolutely' serve on Biden's COVID task force | Major glove factories close after thousands test positive for COVID-19 House Oversight panel asks Purdue Pharma's Sackler family to testify over opioid crisis 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 BookerDangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs 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. SiresWe can't lose sight of Ortega's abuses in Nicaragua Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell wins Democratic primary 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 ColemanDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief Democrats smell blood with new DHS whistleblower complaint New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries 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 PascrellPress: Trump's biggest fear is — lock him up Biden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households MORE (D) leading by about 70 points and Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Democrat Gottheimer wins reelection in New Jersey Cook Political Report shifts 8 more House races toward Democrats 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 SmithWoman tased, arrested for trespassing for not wearing mask at Ohio football game China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong China sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation 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.