TRENTON, N.J. — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his well-funded Republican foe, Bob Hugin, already are lobbing attacks at each other in anticipation of a fall showdown, but they first have to win their party’s primaries on Tuesday.
Menendez, who is seeking a third term, has establishment support as he faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from Lisa McCormick, a Rahway publisher.
Menendez has nearly $6 million cash on hand, while McCormick has not filed any fundraising reports, according to Federal Election Commission records. McCormick says she is running a grassroots-driven campaign.
On the Republican side, Hugin, a former executive of the pharmaceutical company Celgene who has promised to spend tens of millions of his own money on his campaign, faces construction executive Brian Goldberg.
Hugin already has launched ads attacking Menendez, who was charged with public corruption and admonished by Senate colleagues over lavish gifts he accepted from a friend. He has maintained his innocence and prosecutors dropped the case following a hung jury.
Menendez has attacked Hugin over Celgene’s payment of $280 million to settle a whistleblower’s claim that it marketed cancer drugs improperly.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. They will remain open until 8 p.m.
Voters will also be choosing the state’s 12-member congressional delegation, including selecting party nominees to replace two Republican incumbents retiring from the U.S. House.
In New Jersey’s 2nd District, which covers all or parts of eight counties and includes the shore resort of Atlantic City, Democrats and Republicans are vying to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo.
Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew has raised more money than any of his Democratic or Republican challengers and was included in the party’s “red to blue” program, which helps top-tier candidates raise money.
He faces former U.S. Sen. Cory Booker staffer William Cunningham, of Vineland; self-styled “Stop-President Donald Trump” farmer Nate Kleinman, of Elmer; and retired public school teacher Tanzie Youngblood, of Swedesboro. Youngblood has gained some attention and won the endorsement over the weekend from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York.
On the Republican side, former gubernatorial candidate Hirsh Singh, former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, former FBI agent Robert Turkavage and attorney Seth Grossman are vying for the nomination.
Farther north in the 11th District, Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s decision to retire after 12 terms has set up five-way Democratic and Republican primaries.
Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former federal prosecutor and Navy pilot, is outpacing the four Democrats and five Republicans in fundraising. She also is included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s red to blue program.
The other Democrats running are Mitchell Cobert, of Morristown; Tamara Harris, of West Orange; Alison Heslin, of Morristown; and Mark Washburne, of Mendham.
On the Republican side, Assemblyman Jay Webber raised nearly $235,000. The other Republicans are Patrick Allocco, of Convent Station; Peter De Neufville, of Chatham; Tony Ghee, of Totowa; and Martin Hewitt, of Morristown.
Four House incumbents, including three Democrats and one Republican, face challengers. They are Democrat Frank Pallone in the 6th District, Republican Leonard Lance in the 7th District, Democrat Bill Pascrell Jr. in the 9th District and Democrat Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th District.
Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in the 3rd District, Democratic Rep. Albio Sires in the 8th District and Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman in the 12th District do not face primaries.