TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Voters finalized their picks Tuesday for the top of the Republican and Democratic state Assembly tickets this November, but this fall's main event is already coming into focus.

(Jessica Kourkounis, Getty Images News)

Just five of the state's 40 legislative districts featured competitive races. That mirrors roughly the number of competitive races experts say they expect on Nov. 3, when voters will elect a new General Assembly.

This year, for the first time in 16 years, the Assembly is atop the ticket because of a quirk in term lengths.

At stake for Democrats is the opportunity to build on their majority. They control 48 of 80 seats. Republicans have a chance to capture the majority for the first time since 2001, though analysts say the makeup of legislative districts makes that a difficult job.

Lawmakers could also put a referendum on whether to approve casinos in northern New Jersey on the ballot. The issue divides legislators along geographic lines and would probably result in a significant influx of outside cash into the campaign, Election Law Enforcement Commission executive director Jeff Brindle said.

HOT SPOTS

Democratic voters in New Jersey's 15th, 20th and 31st Districts saw contested races Tuesday, while the GOP featured contests in the 9th and 24th Districts.

Each district elects two people to the Assembly, and most party-backed candidates run together as a ticket.

  • Incumbents DiAnne Gove and Brian Rumpf defeated Howard Height and Fredric Kociban in the 9th District, which includes parts of Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean counties.
  • In the Mercer and Hunterdon County-based 15th District, incumbents Reed Gusciora and Liz Muoio held off a challenge from attorney Dan Toto.
  • The Elizabeth-centered 20th District featured a three-way competition. Incumbents Jamel Holley and Annette Quijano were challenged by Tony Monteiro and Giuliano Farina and by Jorge Batista and Vivian Bell.
  • Hudson County's 31st District features two open seats. Nicholas Chiaravalloti, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, and ticket-mate Angela McKnight have the establishment backing and took on several challengers, including Joseph Conte and Ray Regalado and Bruce Alston and Washington Flores.
  • In northwest New Jersey's 24th District, incumbent Parker Space and ticket-mate Gail Phoebus took on challengers Marie Bilik and Nathan Orr, who ran separately.

Analysts expect the southern New Jersey 1st and 2nd Districts to be among the most hotly contested in November. They also expect northern New Jersey's 38th District to have a competitive race.

NEW CASINO WRINKLE?

Three Democratic lawmakers from northern New Jersey introduced a long-discussed proposal this week to let voters weigh in on expanding casino gambling in Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties. Southern New Jersey lawmakers oppose the idea.

Brindle said he thinks the general election campaign

Here is a list of uncontested races in New Jersey:

State Senate - District 5

Nilsa Cruz-Perez (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 1

Sam Fiocchi (i), GOP

Jim Sauro, GOP

State Assembly - District 1

Bob Andrzejczak (i), Dem

Bruce Land, Dem

State Assembly - District 2

Chris Brown (i), GOP

Will Pauls, GOP

State Assembly - District 2

Colin Bell, Dem

Vincent Mazzeo (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 3

Samuel MacCarone, GOP

Leroy Pierce, GOP

State Assembly - District 3

John Burzichelli (i), Dem

Adam Taliaferro (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 4

Kevin Murphy, GOP

Jack Nicholson, GOP

State Assembly - District 4

Paul Moriarty (i), Dem

Gabriela Mosquera (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 5

Kevin Ehret, GOP

Ralph Williams, GOP

State Assembly - District 5

Marianne Cass, Dem

Angel Fuentes (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 6

Robert Esposito, GOP

Holly Tate, GOP

State Assembly - District 6

Louis Greenwald (i), Dem

Pamela Lampitt (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 7

Bill Conley, GOP

Rob Prisco, GOP

State Assembly - District 7

Herb Conaway (i), Dem

Troy Singleton (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 8

Joe Howarth, GOP

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 9

John Bingham, Dem

Fran Zimmer, Dem

State Assembly - District 10

Dave Wolfe (i), GOP

Gregory McGuckin (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 10

Kimberley Casten, Dem

Valter Must, Dem

State Assembly - District 11

Mary Pat Angelini (i), GOP

Caroline Casagrande (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 11

Joann Downey, Dem

Eric Houghtaling, Dem

State Assembly - District 12

Robert Clifton (i), GOP

Ronald Dancer (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 12

David Merwin, Dem

Anthony Washington, Dem

State Assembly - District 13

Amy Handlin (i), GOP

Declan O'Scanlon (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 13

Jeanne Cullinane, Dem

Thomas Herman, Dem

State Assembly - District 14

David Jones, GOP

Philip Kaufman, GOP

State Assembly - District 14

Daniel Benson (i), Dem

Wayne DeAngelo (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 15

Anthony Giordano, GOP

Peter Mendonez, GOP

State Assembly - District 16

Jack Ciattarelli (i), GOP

Donna Simon (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 16

Maureen Vella, Dem

Andrew Zwicker, Dem

State Assembly - District 17

Robert Mettler, GOP

Brajesh Singh, GOP

State Assembly - District 17

Joseph Danielsen (i), Dem

Joseph Egan (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 18

Synnove Bakke, GOP

Teresa Hutchison, GOP

State Assembly - District 18

Patrick Diegnan Jr. (i), Dem

Nancy Pinkin (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 19

Thomas Maras, GOP

Reyes Ortega, GOP

State Assembly - District 19

Craig Coughlin (i), Dem

John Wisniewski (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 20

Stephen Kozlovich, GOP

Roger Stryeski, GOP

State Assembly - District 21

Jon Bramnick (i), GOP

Nancy Munoz (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 21

David Barnett, Dem

Jill LaZare, Dem

State Assembly - District 22

William Michelson, GOP

William Vastine, GOP

State Assembly - District 22

Jerry Green (i), Dem

James Kennedy, Dem

State Assembly - District 23

John DiMaio (i), GOP

Erik Peterson (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 24

Michael Grace, Dem

Jacqueline Stapel, Dem

State Assembly - District 25

Anthony Bucco (i), GOP

Michael Carroll (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 25

Richard Corcoran, Dem

Thomas Moran, Dem

State Assembly - District 26

BettyLou DeCroce (i), GOP

Jay Webber (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 26

Avery Hart, Dem

Wayne Marek, Dem

State Assembly - District 27

Tayfun Selen, GOP

Wonkyu Rim, GOP

State Assembly - District 27

Mila Jasey (i), Dem

John McKeon (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 28

Darnel Henry, GOP

David Pinckney, GOP

State Assembly - District 28

Ralph Caputo (i), Dem

Cleopatra Tucker (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 29

Nicholas Campione, GOP

Jeannette Veras, GOP

State Assembly - District 29

Eliana Pintor-Marin (i), Dem

Grace Spencer (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 30

Sean Kean (i), GOP

David Rible (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 30

Jimmy Esposito, Dem

Jim Keady, Dem

State Assembly - District 31

Matthew Kopko, GOP

Herminio Mendoza, GOP

State Assembly - District 32

Frank Miqueli, GOP

Lisamarie Tusa, GOP

State Assembly - District 32

Angelica Jimenez (i), Dem

Vincent Prieto (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 33

Garrett Simulcik, GOP

Javier Sosa, GOP

State Assembly - District 33

Annette Chaparro, Dem

Raj Mukherji (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 34

Louis Rodriguez, GOP

John Traier, GOP

State Assembly - District 34

Thomas Giblin (i), Dem

Sheila Oliver (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 35

David Jimenez, GOP

Ilia Villanueva, GOP

State Assembly - District 35

Shavonda Sumter (i), Dem

Benjie Wimberly (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 36

Forrest Elliott, GOP

James Lenoy, GOP

State Assembly - District 36

Marlene Caride (i), Dem

Gary Schaer (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 37

Joseph Fiscella, GOP

Gino Tessaro, GOP

State Assembly - District 37

Gordon Johnson (i), Dem

Valerie Vainieri Huttle (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 38

Anthony Cappola, GOP

Mark DiPisa, GOP

State Assembly - District 38

Tim Eustace (i), Dem

Joseph Lagana (i), Dem

State Assembly - District 39

Robert Auth (i), GOP

Holly Schepisi (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 39

John Derienzo, Dem

Jeffrey Goldsmith, Dem

State Assembly - District 40

David Russo (i), GOP

Scott Rumana (i), GOP

State Assembly - District 40

Christine Ordway, Dem

Paul Vagianos, Dem

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