New Jersey voters settling Senate, 12 House races

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey voters will settle an expensive, and at-times ugly Senate race Tuesday along with a dozen House seats, including two where Republican incumbents are retiring.

The top of the ticket features two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez fighting to hold on in what experts say is an unexpectedly close contest against Republican Bob Hugin, who has given his campaign more than $30 million.

Hugin seized on Menendez's 2017 federal trial, which ended with the corruption charges being dropped, but also led to a harshly worded Senate Ethics Committee admonishment.

Menendez has tried to link Hugin to President Donald Trump, highlighting past contributions to him, but his campaign has been outspent thanks to Hugin's deep pockets.

Hugin says he will be an independent voice if elected.

New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972, and many had expected the seat to stay firmly in Democratic control. But Hugin's ads may have affected some voters as polls show the rice tightening.

In the House races, surveys show Democrats could pick up seats in two races where Republican incumbents are retiring. The current split is seven to five in favor of Democrats.

In northern New Jersey's 11th District, Democrat Mikie Sherrill has a big fundraising advantage over Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber. Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen is retiring after 12 terms in the district, which narrowly went for Trump in 2016.

In the 2nd District, which covers much of southern New Jersey and includes Atlantic City, Republican Frank LoBiondo is retiring. Long-time Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew is leading in surveys and fundraising against pro-Trump Republican Seth Grossman.

Surveys have also shown close House races in the 3rd and 7th districts.

In the 3rd Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur faces political newcomer Andy Kim. The Democrat and former Obama administration national security aide has not sought office before. MacArthur has been an ally of Trump's and is seeking his third term.

In the 7th District, Republican Rep. Leonard Lance is seeking a sixth term against Democrat Tom Malinowski, who was the assistant secretary of state for human rights under Barack Obama's administration.

Voters will also decide whether to approve $500 million in bonds that would fund educational projects, including school security and vocational schools.

There are also a handful of special legislative races, but most voters will not be electing state officeholders.