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Breaking Glass

Primary included some big wins for women

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- (Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress / Facebook)

Women won big with the Democrats in New Jersey on Tuesday, as three female candidates advanced to the general congressional election:

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman in the 12th Congressional District; Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County Freeholder in the 3rd Congressional District; and Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach as the Party’s standard bearer in the 7th Congressional District.

“I’m glad that a greater number of New Jersey women are positioned to win congressional elections in our state than ever before,” said John Currie, chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, in a statement during celebrations Wednesday.  

“The fact is, when women succeed, New Jersey succeeds, and our three female congressional candidates are positioned for success,” Currie said.

The advancement of these candidates make it highly likely that Democrats will elect at least one woman to the New Jersey congressional delegation this fall — a task that has not been accomplished in over a decade.

RELATED: N.J. primary roundup: Watson Coleman, MacArthur victorious

Furthermore, if Watson Coleman wins over Republican challenger and Somerset County physician Alieta Eck, she would become the first African-American congresswoman that New Jersey has ever sent to Washington, D.C.

We’d call it an overall success for women in New Jersey if Eck were to win, too.

She has been a key proponent for health care reform in the state by founding a free clinic for the poor and uninsured in Somerset — all while raising five children.

Still, it’s important to note that Coleman, Belgard and Kovach were elected from the most diverse slate of candidates the state has ever assembled, including candidates of Korean, African-American, South Asian and Cuban descent.

In total, more than half of the state’s Democratic congressional candidates will be women or minorities.

“We have a great crop of Democratic candidates this election cycle, and we are running against a Republican Party that is reckless and irresponsible, and that stands in the way of equality and progress,” Currie said in a statement Tuesday night.

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“We will have congressional candidates who better reflect our state’s diversity. I look forward to electing a new delegation that looks more like the people of New Jersey, includes capable women, and shares middle class values.”

Even though women comprise more than half of the population, Republican elected officials recently have taken pointed measures against gender equity.

For example, Gov. Chris Christie eliminated nearly $7.5 million for family planning services that would have been matched 9-to-1 by federal funds.

And, according to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, Congressional Republicans have supported allowing health insurance companies to deny coverage by considering womanhood a pre-existing medical condition, delayed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, refused to improve paid family and medical leave, and denied a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Here’s hoping that when the women make it to Congress, those are the first decisions they challenge.  

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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