Monday’s filing deadline ended the inside-game portion of this year’s congressional primary season, with more than 50 candidates filing to run.

Indications are that Republicans could see close primaries in a couple of districts but that Democrats are in position to gain seats in November.

“Right now, it looks like there is significant potential for a Democratic wave,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray, who said that a lot still could change before November.

New Jersey is typically a Democratic state even when turnout patterns are typical. Since last year, turnout has been up among Democrats in many special elections around the country, which could have an especially big impact in New Jersey, where the party has more than 890,000 additional registered voters – 2.1 million to the GOP’s 1.2 million.

“That’s going to put probably every single House seat in New Jersey in play, at least to some extent,” said Murray, who said it depends on the quality of the challengers Democrats choose.

Twenty-seven Democrats filed to run for House seats, along with 24 Republicans.

The Republicans seemed to cluster their candidates in the most competitive races, with five candidates filing in the open-seat 2nd District and five filing in the open-seat 11th District. Democrats have nearly as many prospects – four in the 2nd District and five in the 11th District.

Those are the two seats Murray says are the most likely to flip parties, with the 2nd District topping the list. U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo is retiring, and Republican Party leaders are divided about which candidate is their strongest option.

“That’s one of the places where Republicans can’t get behind a single candidate. So there’s going to be a lot of infighting there before they even come up with a nominee,” Murray said.

Here’s the list of primary candidates as of Monday night, according to the state Division of Elections:

  • 1st District … Democrats: Rep. Donald Norcross, Robert Carlson, Scot Tomaszewski. Republicans: Paul Dilks.
  • 2nd District … Democrats: William Cunningham, Nate Kleinman, Jeff Van Drew, Tanzie Youngblood. Republicans: Sam Fiocchi, Brian Fitzherbert, Seth Grossman, Hirsh Singh, Robert Turkavage.
  • 3rd District … Democrats: Andy Kim. Republicans: Rep. Tom MacArthur, Martin Weber.
  • 4th District … Democrats: Jim Keady, Joshua Welle. Republicans: Rep. Chris Smith.
  • 5th District … Democrats: Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Republicans: Steve Lonegan, John McCann.
  • 6th District … Democrats: Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., Javahn Walker. Republicans: Richard Pezzullo.
  • 7th District … Democrats: Peter Jacob, Goutam Jois, Tom Malinowski. Republicans: Rep. Leonard Lance, Raafat Barsoom, Lindsay Brown.
  • 8th District … Democrats: Rep. Albio Sires. Republicans: John Muniz.
  • 9th District … Democrats: Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., William Henry. Republicans: Eric Fisher.
  • 10th District … Democrats: Rep. Donald Payne Jr., Aaron Fraser. Republicans: Agha Khan.
  • 11th District … Democrats: Mitchell Cobert, Tamara Harris, Alison Heslin, Mikie Sherrill, Mark Washburne. Republicans: Patrick Allocco, Peter de Neufville, Antony Ghee, Martin Hewitt, Jay Webber.
  • 12th District … Democrats: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. Republicans: Daryl Kipnis.

The biggest election in New Jersey this year, the U.S. Senate race, isn’t expected to see a competitive election on June 5 – and likely not in November, either.

Democrats remain committed to incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez, especially after corruption charges were dropped following a hung jury last year. And Republican leaders lined up behind pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin.

Murray said the GOP establishment supports Hugin largely because he can self-finance his campaign – and perhaps help prevent down-ballot damage in other races.

“They want somebody up there who can run a decent campaign because they’re really worried about holding onto these House seats as well a lot of the county and local seats they hold right now that they feel could be under threat,” Murray said.

“The fact that we have somebody from outside politics, meaning that nobody who has been in office here in New Jersey wanted to even bother to try stick their neck out on this, says a lot,” he said.

There will be other Senate hopefuls on the June ballot, including Democrat Lisa McCormick and Republicans Brian Goldberg, Antonio Sabas, Mac Truong and Dana Wefer.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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