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Booker beats progressive challenger, Van Drew race set and other takeaways from Tuesday’s primary

  • July 08, 2020

WASHINGTON – Another primary night has come and gone, with few election surprises and little trouble for voters who cast their ballot.

Incumbent Sen. Cory Booker survived against a progressive challenger for in New Jersey’s Democratic Senate primary.

Booker faced off against little-known Lawrence Hamm, founder and chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, which works for social, racial, social, and economic justice. Hamm’s slogan, “Not Me. Us,”  was the same used by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ in his presidential campaign.

Booker is one of only three Black senators and recently has been a vocal leader in the police reform debate on Capitol Hill. Ahead of the primary, Booker had run for president but ended his bid in January. 

More:Where do Americans stand on election issues? Let them tell you.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks to the crowd during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Although Booker, who first arrived to the Senate in 2013, was expected to win, the primary challenge came at a time when progressive candidates, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have successfully bested establishment-backed Democrats. Most recently, progressive candidate Jamaal Bowman leads in the primary against Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., a 16-term incumbent and the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair who received endorsements from establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer.

Here’s a look at other news from Tuesday’s primary

Rep. Jeff Van Drew to face off against Amy Kennedy

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican last year, won the GOP primary and will face of against Democrat Amy Kennedy, who won the Democratic primary, in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District.

In December 2019, Van Drew was one of only two House Democrats to break ranks and vote against both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Soon after his vote, he switched his party affiliation to the GOP. Trump earlier this year campaigned for Van Drew’s re-election at a rally in Wildwood, N.J.

More:Meet Jeff Van Drew, the party-switching lawmaker

Van Drew faced a primary challenge from conservative Bob Patterson, a former speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration.

For the Democratic primary, Kennedy, a former schoolteacher who is married to former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison, a political-science professor at Montclair State University, and Will Cunningham, former congressional aide to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who served as chief investigator for the House Oversight Committee.

Kennedy was endorsed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., arrives for a classified briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 3, 2019. Van Drew, a Democrat who plans to switch and become a Republican, has said he plans to vote this week against impeaching President Donald Trump.

Voting issues not as prevalent as previous elections

After weeks of long lines at polling states and various issues with voting, voters in New Jersey and Delaware faced few reported issues casting their ballots.

Both states expanded vote by mail and absentee voting options as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country.

In New Jersey, Gov. Murphy ordered the election to be conducted mostly by mail after pushing the primary back from June 2 due to COVID-19. All vote-by-mail ballots postmarked on or before Tuesday, and received by 8 p.m. July 14, will be counted.

In Delaware, Gov. John Carney issued an emergency coronavirus declaration that allowed any voter to choose “sick or temporarily or permanently physically disabled” and be eligible to cast a ballot absentee. Absentee ballot applications were also sent to every registered Democrat and Republican in the state. 

More:Several Republican senators say they will not attend GOP convention as COVID-19 cases in Florida spike

Biden officially wins his home state

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, officially won Delaware Tuesday evening.

Biden, who was the state’s senator for more than 35 years, finally won his home state in his third run for president. Although he dropped out of the race before Delaware’s primary in his previous presidential bids, Biden is the last candidate standing after out-lasting one of the largest and most diverse presidential fields in history.

Both Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were on the ballot, despite both Senators having suspended their campaigns in April and March, respectively.

Biden also won the New Jersey presidential primary Tuesday.

The former vice president has roughly 2,270 pledged delegates. Last month, he surpassed the 1,991 pledged delegate threshold needed to become the party’s nominee.

Contributed: Savannah Behrmann; Associated Press

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