The “blue wave” crashed over New Jersey on Tuesday night, with Democrats flipping at least three congressional districts and returning embattled Robert Menendez to the Senate.

The Democratic pick-ups in New Jersey contributed to the party taking control of the House of Representatives. Republicans, however, kept its slim control of the Senate.

Democratic challengers took open seats in South Jersey’s 2nd District and North Jersey’s 11th District. A Democratic challenger, meanwhile, defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance in the 7th District.

In the 3rd District, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was holding onto his seat with a razor-thin margin that left the race too close to call Tuesday night. UPDATE: By Wednesday afternoon, MacArthur was losing to his Democratic challenger by the same margin.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith in the 4th District was the only Republican to win his election with a convincing total.

Democrats now hold 10 out of the 12 congressional seats from New Jersey — and they could grab an 11th if Andy Kim manages to snatch victory from MacArthur as election officials continue counting mail-in and provisional ballots in the days ahead.

N.J. Congressional districts: Before & After

The map on the left shows the current party make-up of the state’s 12 congressional districts. The map on the right shows where we stand after Election Day. The 3rd District is in black because it remains too close to call.

Blue wave

In the 2nd District, which has been in Republican hands since retiring U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo first assumed office in 1995, Democrats took the seat.

Jeff Van Drew, a conservative Democrat representing Cape May County in the state Senate, beat former Republican Atlantic City councilman and Atlantic County freeholder Seth Grossman, who was abandoned by his own party’s national campaign committee after making a series of racially insensitive remarks.

Unofficial results had Van Drew with 122,374 votes to Grossman’s 107,590.

In the 3rd District, which spans Burlington and Monmouth counties, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur held a 2,000-vote lead over Andy Kim Tuesday night, which turned into a 2,600-vote deficit by the following afternoon. MacArthur was the only congressman from New Jersey to vote for President Trump’s tax reform, which will ding wealthier Garden State residents who pay state and property taxes in excess of $10,000.

MacArthur also was the author of an eponymous amendment to a Republican healthcare reform bill that was criticized for trying to weaken protections for preexisting conditions, a cornerstone of Obamacare. Kim served as the National Security Council’s director for Iraq under President Obama and served as an advisor Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan.

MacArthur, a former insurance executive, has been in office since 2015.

In the 7th District, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski defeated sitting Congressman Leonard Lance, who’s been in office since 2009. The district had been in Republican hands since 1981. Unofficial results had Malinowski with 139,373 to Lance’s 133,581.

Malinowski’s coattails also carried two Democrats onto the previously all-Republican Board of Freeholders in once reliably GOP Somerset County.

In the 11th District, a Democratic Navy veteran and federal prosecutor took the seat of retiring Republican Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. Mikie Sherrill got 142,553 votes to Morris County Assemblyman Jay Webber’s 107,955. Republicans had controlled the district since 1985.

Also on Tuesday, New Jersey appears to have supported a ballot measure to allocate $500 million for school construction projects — though it's unclear which districts will get the projects.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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