Primary Elections Are Upon Us: Get Off Your Duff And Get Out The Vote

In 11 days, on June 5, over 5 million NJ voters will be eligible to cast ballots in the primaries. How many will show up at the polls? Will enough people who support your candidate vote? Can you help generate turnout? Below are the votes cast in recent NJ primary House races, and the other federal races at the time:


2004     333,416   Presidential

2006     329,057   Senate

2008     449,125   Senate (Presidential primary held separately earlier)

2010     413,138   none

With such lousy turnout (below 10%), it is no surprise when the victor is the candidate who got his/her people to the polls. Achieving strong turnout is all the more important in close races. Even the underdog can upset the leader with volunteers and a good ground game, and this year there are underdogs who need our help. Count on GOTV to make the difference between losers and winners in several races. Endorsements, money and local party support all help, but now is when canvassing, phoning, dropping off literature, delivering signage, talking to neighbors, and union engagement can make the key difference. Turnout will still be disappointing and has to be actively solicited, but volunteering for GOTV should start this weekend if you are not already involved.

Updated primary candidate financial data during the current election cycle through May 16 is starting to appear at the FEC website. The amount spent through May 16 appears in parentheses next to the candidate's name. Some reports are not yet available, but should be shortly.

In CD 9 there are two Democratic candidates: Representatives Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman ($1,602,442) - well known, experienced and progressive. They have come out with their their campaign coffers overflowing and their guns blazing. The smoke is everywhere, although some of it is smoke and mirrors. With emotions high, the shoot-out is likely to result in a big turnout. Because of the closeness of the race GOTV will make the difference.

In CD 5 resentment against Republican conservative incumbent Scott Garrett ($531,961) on the part of newly reapportioned Democrats in the district as well as frustrated long-time residents will fuel some voter turnout. However, the Bergen County Democratic anointed candidate Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen generates little enthusiasm and has conducted a lackadaisical campaign. His competitor Marine veteran Jason Castle has proven more energetic, charismatic and progressive, but is new to the district and has been hobbled with a shoestring budget. For Castle to take the day, GOTV is essential.  

In CD 10 where there are four main candidates seeking to inherit the mantle of Donald Payne, Sr., the endorsements, party machine machinations, and candidate backroom alliances have seemed like a whirling dervish - high speed, unending, and enough to make us dizzy. Newark Council President Donald Payne, Jr. ($81,915) has the edge but not the enthusiasm of the electorate which his father enjoyed. Senator Nia Gill ($70,293) has her supporters, particularly outside of Newark. West Ward Councilman Ron Rice, Jr. has the opportunity to build on an enthusiastic cadre of district-wide progressives and Newark residents. Donald Payne, Jr. has recently become more active with a professional campaign staff and growing coffers, but he still lacks the popular support which Ron Rice might generate. At this point volunteering for GOTV is crucial.

In LD 16 Blue Jersey diarist, YouTube sensation and art teacher Marie Corfield faces former Princeton Twp. Deputy Mayor Sue Nemeth. Corfield has party endorsement in three counties, whereas Nemeth's support is based in the Princetons. In this Assembly race there is substantially less campaign money for GOTV, and within LD 16 there are no Congressional Democratic primary contests to attract voters to the polls. All the more reason to volunteer to get out the vote.  

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