November 12, 2018 | ° F

Democratic candidates hold onto NJ Legislative seats in Middlesex County

Photo by Jeffrey Lazaro |

Two men at the Middlesex County Republican Organization event in Edison check on poll results last night where various Republican candidates lost their elections.

EDISON — All three District 17 Democrats celebrated victories over their Republican challengers at a late night Middlesex County Democratic Organization event.

Sen. Bob Smith alongside Assemblymen Upendra Chivukula and Joseph Egan — all incumbents — won back their seats yesterday in the N.J. Legislature. Early poll results for all three showed them as leaders and nothing changed as official numbers were released.

“We have to look at the bigger picture — Democrats in Middlesex County crushed the Republicans,” Smith said.

He said labor unions were on their side as well as successful campaigning over the past several months.

Photo: Alex Van Driesen

Assemblyman Joseph Egan, left, Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula all reclaimed their seats this election with decisive wins against their opponents.

Photo: Jeffrey Lazaro

Jordan Rickards, the Republican challenger to long-time incumbent Sen Bob. Smith, said last night that he was not nervous.

“Look at these great campaigns, advertisements,” Smith said. “We crushed them.”

Smith, Egan and Chivukula each took decisive victories in their races, with all three capturing at least 60 percent of 13,852 votes. Smith alone had 65 percent of votes at 67 percent of precincts reporting, according to

In New Brunswick, the races were even less contested, with Smith earning more than 1,600 votes when just 23 percent of votes were counted. Jordan Rickards, the Republican challenger, earned less than 400.

“I want to thank all of you,” Chivukula said to the audience at Pines Manor in Edison.

He said his party had done its job of providing the constituents with jobs and bringing money into the district.

“My running partners and I have had a strong record of accomplishments for the last 10 years in the state,” Chivukula said. “We have done a very good job in terms of constituents services, and we have brought money into the district and solved some of the local issues.”

On the topic of higher education, he said the issue of tuition increases and the overall increasing price of higher education was something of concern. The state must put more money into financial aid and cut administrative costs, he said.

“The money has to come from the state to offset the increasing cost of education,” he said. “We have to try to cut down the administrative costs, and that will bring down the overall expenses, and that in turn will bring down tuition.”

With his party members’ successes rolling in moments before receiving his own news, Egan said he did not look at the results.

“I didn’t take a look. The only results I know are New Brunswick, and we did very well in New Brunswick,” he said of the city for which he formerly served as a councilmember.

On the topic of higher education, he shared similar sentiments with Chivukula.

“I think we need to be more realistic and need to put more into higher education,” he said. “I think we need to concentrate on coming up with more money for higher education.”

He said a tuition freeze might seem like a logical decision, but it is highly unrealistic despite its popularity with college students.

“While a tuition freeze may sound great for the students, that’s not going to solve the problem because we need to figure out a way to give more money,” Egan said.

Peter Barnes Jr., chairman of the Middlesex County Democrats, said the Democratic Party had done all it could in this election.

“We are very optimistic,” Barnes said. “Our candidates, for the last few months, have been knocking on doors, meeting their constituents.”

He said candidates did a good job of talking to voters about the issues that most concern their districts.

N.J. voters across the state also in this election backed the issue of sports betting, which was put up to a non-binding referendum on the ballot.

With more than 50 percent of votes counted, the results showed voters supported it two-to-one.

The next step would be a lawsuit to overturn a federal ban on sports betting and officials legislation within the state. If it passes it would be legal to bet at racetrack sites, but it would ban college sports betting.

By Aleksi Tzatzev

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