Highlands Mayor Anna Little barely leads establishment Republican Diane Gooch in the 6th District Republican Primary tonight: 6,725 to 6,662 votes.
On the verge of gutting it out, Little is the single all-out Tea Party Approved June 8th candidate who may earn a contested New Jersey victory.
An off-the-line longshot, according to the last Federal Election Commission filing, Little spent $19,504 in the primary to Gooch’s $200,575.
The mayor of Highlands was the newsflash on the night in these Congressionals where everything else went according to the will of the organization line.
In the 3rd District, GOP line candidate John Runyan held off renegade Republican Justin Murphy, 60 to 40%, but struggled to nail down a concussive victory in Burlington County.
In the 12th District, establisment Republican Scott Sipprelle of Princeton Township got by Tea Party endorsed David Corsi of Oceanport by a closer margin than the Sipprelle campaign expected. The result was 54-46%.
What looked over the weekend like the only white knuckle contest for a Republican incumbent proved anti-climatic, as U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Lebanon) defeated the closest of his trio of Tea Party challengers, 56 to 31%.
In Lance’s home county, a three-way race for sheriff yielded an off-the-line victor in Fred Brown of Raritan, who defeated James Paganessi of Readington 46-36%, with George Muller earning 17% of the vote. At the county convention earlier this year, Paganessi defeated Brown on a second ballot for the backing of the Republican Party.
Farther down ballot and elsewhere, the so-called Union County Democratic civil war finally proved a toothless drama, with the lone exception coming in Linden, where off the line Democrat At-Large Councilman Derek Armstead defeated Council President Robert Bunk in the primary for mayor.
Armstead recieved 1,972 votes, and Bunk 1,704.
Armstead will face independent Mayor Richard Gerbounka in the November general.
Scuffed up last year in her hometown of Hillside, Union County Democratic Organization Chairman Charlotte DeFilippo fought back to protect her territory Tuesday night and, nowithstanding Linden, prevent an uprising.
At the core of DeFilippo’s defensive victory stood Mayor Chris Bollwage’s City of Elizabeth, where, as of Wednesday morning, four organization-backed incumbent council candidates prevailed against an aggressive challenge by the forces of Board of Education member Rafael Fajardo and his team of Democrats for Change.
“I guess hate doesn’t work,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), whom the opposition depicted as an octopus – and worse – in campaign literature.
The ward by ward results from the Union County Clerk’s Office: Ward 1: Councilman Manny Grova: 1,129 votes, Diego Padilla 473; Ward 2: Councilman Nelson Gonzalez: 712, Carlos Lucio: 683; Ward 3: challenger Armando DaSilva: 999 votes, Councilman Joe Keenan: 971 votes; Ward 4: Councilman Carlos Cedeno: 1,211 votes, Alina Alvarez, 316; Ward 5: Councilman WIlliam Gallman: 719 votes, Lester Dominguez: 671 votes, Eduardo Rodriguez: 102; Ward 6: Councilman Frank Mazza: 805, Marlene Abitanto: 637.
The unofficial results show four organization Democrats (Grova, Gonzalez, Gallman and Mazza) winning and two Democrats for Change winning (Cedeno and DaSilva), but Lesniak on Tuesday was confident that paper ballots secured a victory for Keenan over DaSilva to make it a 5-1 victory for the organization.
Fajardo was not sure.
Even if his running mates ultimately lost, Democrats for Change incumbent Cedeno accumulated the most votes Tuesday and defeated his challenger by the biggest margin (79-21%), followed by Grova’s 70-29% performance.
DeFilippo’s mayoral candidate also won in Rahway, where Rick Proctor defeated Renee Thrash, 60-40%.
Old guard Democratic Party power withstood another test in Middlesex County.
In a duplicate of the May 11th Long Branch mayor’s race in which 20-year incumbent Adam Schneider drubbed his opponent, New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill, a city fixture of two decades, beat grassroots challenger Patricia Bombelyn, 65 to 35% or 1,935 votes to Bombelyn’s 1,205. In yet two more Democrat incumbent victories: in Bloomfield, Mayor Ray McCarthy’s entire line defeated Councilwoman Pat Spychala and her slate, while Haldon Mayor Domenick Stampone beat Councilman Dom Fusco, 56 to 44%.
On the Congressional primary stage, there were upsurges of Tea Party pride in other districts, but ultimately Little bore the brand in a solo act where she threatened to upset Gooch heading into Wednesday.
While acknowledging no official outcome on the night, Pallone allies considered the prospect of facing Little instead of Gooch.
Upside for Pallone: Little has no money and ran as hard right as possible during the primary. The downside for Pallone is Little’s evident anti-establishment connective tissue with portions of the district, which Gooch, for all her money, couldn’t convincingly overcome. They’re also annoyed at the potential for the national Tea Party movement to lionize Little and turn the district into a troque point in their larger war.
The district still leans heavily Democrat – 123,294 registered D’s to 49,370 registered R’s – but Little, if she holds, will argue that she has a recent history, albeit in a Republican Primary – of bucking the odds.