Midterm elections will take place on Nov. 8, 2022. Democrats currently represent a slight majority in the House, holding 220 seats while Republicans hold only 212 seats. The Senate shows a relatively even split between Republicans and Democrats, with 48 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with them, and 50 Republicans. Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.
Thirty-four Senate seats are up for election this year. There will also be two special elections to fill the seat formerly held by Vice President Harris in California, and Sen. Jim Inhofe’s seat in Oklahoma, from which he is resigning effective Jan. 3, 2023. There are no New Jersey Senate seats up for election this year.
All 12 NJ seats in the House are up for election this year. According to information from Ballotpedia, districts 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8-12 are likely to go to Democrats while districts 2 and 4 are likely to go to Republicans. The seventh district is a close swing district, between incumbent Tom Malinowski (D) and Thomas Kean Jr. (R). Polling shows a slight edge for Kean in that district. Kean’s campaign goals closely resemble the goals of Republicans across the nation and local candidates across New Jersey.
Thomas Kean Jr.’s campaign website promises to fight inflation through opposition to Democrat backed economic plans, support police by opposing any plans to defund police forces, protect life through opposition to New Jersey’s current laws which keep abortion legal, give parents a voice by opposing “Gov. Murphy’s CRT agenda and fighting to ensure that core education is taught,” and secure the border through opposition to “funding legal aid for illegal immigrants,” and opposing making driver’s licenses available to illegal immigrants. Kean’s campaign website promises that he “will fight to build the wall, enforce our laws, and secure our border.”
The Republican Party platform this year remains the same as the one adopted at the Republican National Convention in 2016. In 2020, due to a variety of mitigating factors, the Republican National Committee resolved to, “adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.”
While issue subjects vary from race to race, it should be noted that running for office as part of a political party implies approval of published party goals.
The Republican platform affirms first and foremost support for former President Donald Trump, an “America-first agenda,” and opposition to the “failed policies of the Obama-Biden Administration.” It argues for limitation of government powers and projects, and consistent with that is their aim to repeal and overturn previously established legislation with limited proposals for new legislation. Republican positions on the environment and climate-change mostly reflect their economic goals of reducing U.S. dependance on international oil by tapping into reserves within U.S. controlled territories.
Republican candidate talking-points focus on the economy, highlighting concerns about inflation, concerns about crime, opposition to gun regulation, stricter regulation on immigration, and many policies regarding schools, parents, and young people. Republicans continue to express support for expanding school choice, or more clearly, making government funding more available to non-public schools, including religious institutions. Also on the ballot are transgender rights. Republicans this election season aim to restrict access to gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth and oppose recognition of their identity in schools and other public spaces.
On the ballot in Monmouth County this year are Republican backed measures A4139, A4142, A7892, A7896, A7897, and A7899, which aim to tighten laws and punishments for car and other vehicle theft. Police data indicates higher concentration of car thefts in wealthier areas of Monmouth County, including Deal and Ocean. Statistics vary, but generally indicate increases in car thefts between 2019 and 2022.
Measure A4241 in particular, “Establishes mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for second offense involving use of juvenile in automobile theft,” (New Jersey Office of Legislative Services).
Aaron Nitzberg, a junior political science student and Monmouth County local, concerning the ballot measures said “preventative actions against crime are always a good measure for local communities to take in deterring theft, and can generally be effective among other offenses. However, juvenile criminality is often indicative of other shortfalls within the local and neighboring communities.”
The Republican Party platform includes explicit aims to overturn Roe v. Wade (which was successfully overturned on June 24 of this year) and Obergefell v. Hodges (the ruling which grants marriage equality to same-sex couples). The platform also aims to open government grants and other funds to religious institutions, as well as repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profits (including religious institutions) from endorsing political candidates.
Ella Farrelly, a freshman psychology student, took aim at Republican proposals to overturn Obergefell, saying, “I believe the government has no place in determining who we marry. Therefore, I strongly disagree with the notion of them overturning that Supreme Court case. There are some aspects of life that the government should not have any authority over and this in my opinion is one.”
The platform frequently references commitment to protecting “religious freedom.” Religion is set to play a key role for Republicans, who are placing their bets on it as their way to victory.