Despite decades high inflation and a largely unpopular Democratic president there was no red wave that washed over New Jersey.

The picture may be a bit different once all the local races are settled. In addition to congress, voters in many towns were choosing mayors, council members and voting for their board of education. These races are important, because they form the building blocks of grass roots political efforts in local communities.

However, in terms of congress, Democrats fared far better than many expected.

More than $70 million dollars was spent in Garden State congressional contests, but Democrats retained a solid majority of seats.

The net effect

It was a good, but not great, night for Republicans. The same can be said for Democrats.

While the GOP likely won control of the House, Democrats may still control the Senate.

A victory by John Fetterman over Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania was huge, giving President Joe Biden's party some breathing room if they ultimately lose seats elsewhere.

Republicans did appear to flip one seat in New Jersey's 7th district, where Tom Kean  Jr., is leading incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski.

Kean took the stage at campaign headquarters and appeared to claim victory.

"We have been given an opportunity to change the course of history," he said. "My solemn pledge to you will always be to serve with dignity, to listen, to learn and to earn this responsibility."

Malinowski said the race remained "too close to call."

The Associated Press has not yet declared a winner.

In another closely watched race, Democratic incumbent Andy Kim defeated his GOP challenger and won a third term in Congress. Kim faced serious name recognition challenges in his redrawn 3rd District that was heavily gerrymandered following the 2020 census. The changes did add more Democratic registered voters, and that ultimately helped his victory.

Republicans believed they had a chance to pick off Democratic seats held by Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill, but both incumbents won easily.

There was little to no drama in the remaining congressional races in New Jersey.

  • Democrat Robert Menendez (The son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez) won in the 8th District, which includes parts of Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth. The seat was opened by the retirement of Rep. Albio Sires.
  • Republican Christopher Smith won a 22nd term in the 4th District, stretching from the central Jersey Shore to the capitol region of Trenton.
  • Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. won a 19th term in the 6th District that includes parts of the Jersey Shore and Middlesex County.
  • Democrat Donald Norcross won reelection in the 1st District in southwestern New Jersey
  • Democrat Donald Payne Jr, won a seventh term in the 10th District, which includes portions of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, and includes the cities of Newark and Orange.
  • Democrat Bill Pascrell won a new term in the 9th District, which includes his hometown of Paterson.
  • Bonnie Watson Coleman won in the 12th District.
  • Republican Jeff VanDrew was reelected in the 2nd District.

Does it really matter?

Republican's now hold 3 of New Jersey's 12 House seats, a net change of one.

The impact of the congressional makeup in New Jersey will vary. If Republicans do control the House, it is likely those districts held by Republicans in New jersey will benefit in terms of federal projects and dollars flowing from Washington, but with a Democratic president and a possibly divided congress, those effects will be minimal.

Every congressional representative in New Jersey has a robust staff handling constituent issues, and those tend to be non-partisan, so the real-life impact to the average state resident will actually be minimal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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