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Three-way Senate race in heavily Democratic New Jersey

Your guide to the 2024 elections

New Jersey State House in Trenton, N.J. Ultima_Gaina/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Three-way Senate race in heavily Democratic New Jersey


Voter makeup: As of June, roughly 6.6 million voters were registered in New Jersey. According to the Division of Elections, Democrats number roughly 2.5 million, while 1.5 million voters are Republican. Another 2.4 million are not affiliated with any party, and Libertarians are the largest minor party in the state with 24,887 registered voters.

Democrats have a trifecta and a triplex in the Garden State, controlling both chambers of the state legislature and the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

Voting: New Jersey voters are allowed to cast ballots by mail for any reason if they are postmarked on or before Election Day and received within six days after the election. Ballots may be returned by mail, in person at an elections office, or in a ballot drop box. “Bearers” may also submit a mail-in ballot on behalf of someone else, but they are limited to five ballots if the voters are immediate family members living at the same address and three if not. The absentee ballots must be signed, and if signatures do not match, the Division of Elections will ask the voter to certify his or her ballot. New Jersey also offers early voting for all. Primary elections are restricted to party members, but unaffiliated voters may declare a party at the polling location to vote in a primary.


President Joe Biden won New Jersey in 2020 with 57.3 percent of the vote. A Republican presidential candidate last won the state in 1988 when George H.W. Bush ran.

In the June 4 primary, Biden won 88.4 percent of the Democratic vote and gained 122 delegates, but he lost nearly 9 percent and one delegate to the “Uncommitted” ballot option. Pro-life activist Terrisa Bukovinac won 2.8 percent of the Democratic primary vote.

Former President Donald Trump won 96.7 percent of the Republican vote in the presidential primary. But this year the win only brings him nine delegates to the Republican National Convention after 40 were removed to penalize New Jersey for scheduling its primary after May 31. The Republican National Committee wants all delegate selections finished by the end of May. New Jersey has 14 Electoral College votes.


  • Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez, 70, filed as an independent to defend his seat. The three-term senator is standing trial for bribery and corruption charges in New York. In 2023, the Justice Department accused him and five other people, including his wife, Nadine, of accepting large amounts of money, gold bars, and personal favors in return for leveraging policy to favor the Egyptian and Qatari governments. Menendez sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

  • U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, 41, won the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Bob Menendez. A former national security adviser for President Barack Obama, Kim was first elected to Congress in the 2018 blue wave. He worked as a foreign affairs officer with the State Department from 2009 to 2013. Kim serves on several foreign relations committees in the House and, if elected, is expected to replace Menendez on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kim votes with the Biden administration’s position nearly 100 percent of the time. He is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

  • Curtis Bashaw, 64, came out ahead in a four-way GOP primary. The real estate and hotel developer is running as a political outsider. Republicans have not won a Senate seat in New Jersey since 1972, but Bashaw hopes to capitalize on Menendez’s independent campaign to weaken the Democratic vote. Bashaw calls himself “pro-choice, pro-parent,” adding, “I support law enforcement. I support Israel. I support Ukraine but know that America needs to be strong at home to be able to help others, and that means securing our border.” Bashaw has been in a same-sex marriage for 20 years. He has endorsed Trump for reelection this year, though Trump endorsed one of Bashaw’s primary opponents.


Of the 12 congressional seats in New Jersey, Republicans hold only three. After 2022 redistricting, one district became more Republican while the rest tilted even more Democratic. Republicans sued because three vulnerable districts they hoped to flip removed GOP-majority towns. The state Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, meaning the district boundaries will stay in place for the next 10 years.

  • In the 2nd District, three-term incumbent Republican Jeff Van Drew, 71, ran unopposed in his primary. He will face Democratic entrepreneur Joe Salerno, 62, in November. Salerno has promised to defend abortion access, bring more manufacturing to the state, and boost tax credits. Van Drew, formerly a state Senate Democrat, flipped his district blue when he won in 2018. In December 2019, he switched his party affiliation after polls showed him weak among constituents for opposing Trump’s impeachment. He won reelection in 2022 with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

  • Republican Thomas Kean Jr., 55, flipped the 3rd District Republican in 2022 when he defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Malinowski. Kean won by fewer than 9,000 votes. This year, he’ll face Susan Altman, 57, an executive of the left-wing New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Her main platform is pro-abortion advocacy. Altman also supports gun control reforms and increasing taxes for the rich and opposes efforts to ensure books at public schools are age-appropriate. Kean, a former state senator, traces his family line to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the early colonial founders of New England. He is also the son of former Gov. Thomas Kean Sr. and the grandson of former U.S. Rep. Robert Kean. Kean Jr. is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus. Kean does not speak frequently about his policy positions but mostly votes for the GOP position in Washington. He endorsed Trump in June while a Manhattan jury deliberated and then found the former president guilty of falsifying business documents. On a June 13 visit to Capitol Hill, Trump then promised to stump for Kean.

Dig deeper:

  • Leah Savas reports on Terrisa Bukovinac and pro-life activists who kept the bodies of aborted babies in a Washington apartment with the intent of burying them.

  • Read Christina Grube’s report in The Sift on the charges against Sen. Bob Menendez.

  • On The World and Everything in It, Leo Briceno covers a speech by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., at the annual March for Life in Washington.

Visit the WORLD Election Center 2024 to follow our state-by-state coverage between now and November.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


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