TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey voters have delivered Democrats a victory in the general election by expanding the party’s control in Trenton by picking up three new Assembly seats.
Democrats knocked two Republicans out of office in central New Jersey’s 11th district and also took a seat away from the GOP in southern New Jersey’s 1st District.
New Jersey voters elected to shrink Republican ranks and put Assembly Democrats within striking distance of a veto-proof majority. Democrats now have 51 seats to 29 for Republicans.
The Democrats’ victory is a defeat for Gov. Chris Christie and comes as he tries to persuade Republican presidential primary voters to make him the party’s standard bearer nationally.
Democrats were helped along by General Majority PAC. The outside independent group was largely funded by allies of the state’s biggest teacher’s union.
Among the seats the Democrats picked up was the 11th District seat in Monmouth County, where they scored an upset.
Democrats Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling defeated Republican incumbent Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in New Jersey’s 11th District.
Democrats had targeted the traditionally Republican district this year. Republicans have held both seats in the district since 1992.
The shore district is entirely in Monmouth County and includes Asbury Park and Long Branch.
Houghtaling is a Neptune Township council member. Downey is an attorney from Freehold Township.
Democrats also picked up a seat in southern New Jersey. Democratic Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak and running mate Bruce Land beat the Republican ticket in the First District.
Andrzejczak defeated Republican Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi. Fiocchi’s running mate, Jim Sauro, also lost his race.
Meanwhile, two Democratic incumbents won re-election in one northern New Jersey Assembly district where a Republican initially quit after a book with politically incorrect rants he wrote surfaced.
Tim Eustace and Joe Lagana defeated Republicans Mark DiPisa and Anthony Cappola.
DiPisa and the GOP criticized Cappola’s candidacy after a book Cappola wrote more than a decade ago surfaced. It included rants against gays, Asians and breast-feeding moms.
Cappola took responsibility for the book and initially bowed out of the race, but his name remained on the ballot.
Republicans hoped to capture a seat in the district, but were weighed down by the book. Democrats ran ads referencing the book, and a super political action committee spent money to help the incumbents.
A published report indicated that Democrats also swept the Assembly seats in Hudson County.
Voters also cast ballots for a number of local positions as well, from town council to county executive.
Gov. Chris Christie, who is not up for reelection until 2017 if he chooses to run, voted at the Mendham Township Emergency Services Building on Tuesday.
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