Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

New Jersey: Bill Pascrell Wallops Steven Rothman in Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Bill Pascrell trounced fellow Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman in New Jersey’s 9th district primary today, in what was the fourth Member-vs.-Member race to be decided this redistricting cycle.

Pascrell won a lopsided 70 percent to 30 percent victory over Rothman, with 78 percent of the vote counted, according to the Associated Press.

Rothman began with a geographic advantage because the redrawn district contains more of his current territory. But Pascrell worked hard, focusing on grassroots turnout and greasing the local party machine apparatus that is still key to winning the ground game in the Garden State. That strategy clearly paid big dividends on Tuesday.

While it was expected to be a close contest from the beginning, there was also little precedent to help prognosticators handicap a race that garnered national interest and grew increasingly nasty in the final weeks. The two most recent Democratic presidents each supported opposing candidates, with Bill Clinton backing Pascrell and Barack Obama supporting Rothman.

Pascrell is all but assured of returning to Congress next year in this heavily Democratic district. But he will have to serve with and face colleagues who actively campaigned and donated against him. He will also have to serve out the remainder of this Congress with Rothman, whose campaign he accused of engaging in voter suppression.

The intraparty race materialized after an independent commission selected a map late last year that melded the two lawmakers’ districts together. Rothman did not technically live within the lines, but he quickly relocated. Prior to the primary, Rothman and Pascrell each considered the other a friend. But now, according to Garden State sources, the blood is so bad that it will be difficult for those who chose sides to come together.

Pascrell, 75, should be able to continue to hold this seat for as long as he wants. First elected in 1996, he is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

To see the other Members who have been defeated in primaries so far this cycle, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List.


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