Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J) easily fended off a primary challenge from Democratic congressman Robert Andrews, and will be heading into the general election with a decisive victory behind him.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Lautenberg leads Andrews 60 to 34 percent – and the AP has called the race for Lautenberg.
The campaign was highly contentious. Andrews criticized the 84-year-old Lautenberg, arguing he was too old to be effective in the Senate for another term. Lautenberg responded by accusing Andrews of initially supporting the Iraq war and voting for parts of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.
But the race ended up more of a geographic referendum than one over Lautenberg’s age. Lautenberg leads Andrews by 40 to 55 point margins throughout much of central and northern New Jersey – where he received favorable placement on the primary ballot – well more than enough to counteract Andrews’ strong showing in his southern New Jersey home base.
Lautenberg will now face former Republican congressman Dick Zimmer, who narrowly won his party’s nomination, in the general election. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Zimmer defeated state senator Joe Pennacchio, 47 to 39 percent.
Down-ballot in New Jersey, state Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance won the Republican primary for retiring Rep. Mike Ferguson’s (R-N.J.) seat and will face Democratic state senator Linda Stender in the November general election.
Lance easily outdistanced Kate Whitman, the daughter of former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman, in the Republican primary.
And in retiring Rep. Jim Saxton’s (R-N.J.) seat, Lockheed Martin executive Chris Myers comfortably outdistanced Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly 48 to 26 percent in the Republican primary, and will face Democratic state senator John Adler in the general election.