TRENTON — Little changed in the balance of power in the legislature last night, with Democrats remaining firmly in control.

Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University, said the night's big upset was the defeat of incumbent state Sen. Jen Beck, R-11th, by Democrat Vin Gopal.

"Vin Gopal is a young, 32-year-old go-getter," Harrison said, adding, "It was a 'shoe leather' campaign, knocking on doors, traditional old-style politics, and (he) managed to pull off a victory, a big upset."

"Jen Beck was a long-term Republican, well-respected state senator, targeted in this 11th District primarily because two Democrats managed to win the Assembly seats two years ago, signifying that there was kind of a change afoot in the district with the addition of Asbury Park into it, a more Democratic town," Harrison continued.

In South Jersey, Democratic state Senate President Steve Sweeney beat down a 3rd District challenge from Republican Fran Grenier that was heavily bankrolled by the state's largest teachers' union.

"It really was a significant blow, particularly for the New Jersey Education Association's union leadership," Harrison said. "This was the most expensive race in the state. At the end of the day, it will probably have cost the various sides about $20 million, much of that coming from the coffers of the NJEA, who spent an estimated between $10 and $12 million attempting to knock off Sweeney."

Not much changed in the Assembly, with Democrats picking up two seats to add to their already overwhelming majority.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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