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

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Primary elections were held across New Jersey on Tuesday, yielding a mixed bag of surprises and expected results.

In one of the more heated races this primary season, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Trenton) secured the Democratic nomination for U.S. Rep. Rush Holt’s soon-to-be-vacated seat in the 12th Congressional District, defeating state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Cranbury), Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-Somerset) and Princeton University physicist Andrew Zwicker.

If Watson Coleman goes on to defeat Republican challenger and Somerset County physician Alieta Eck, as expected in this overwhelmingly Democratic district, she would become the first African-American congresswoman that New Jersey has ever sent to Washington, D.C.

In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Jeff Bell, a former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and U.S. Senate candidate in both 1978 and 1982, narrowly bested Freehold businessman Rich Pezzullo by just over 4,700 votes and West Orange businessman Brian Goldberg by a little over 6,500 votes. Ramapo College finance professor Murray Sabrin came in last, losing to Bell by over 14,000 votes.

RELATED: Primary included some big wins for women

Bell will now face incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in the fall.

Booker’s challenger in last year’s special election, ex-Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan, came out on the losing end again Tuesday night, falling to former Randolph mayor Tom MacArthur by just under 5,000 votes in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District.

MacArthur will now go up against Democrat Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder who handedly defeated challengers Howard Kleinhendler and Bruce Todd on Tuesday. The seat, like in the 12th District, will become vacant at the end of the year following the departure of U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican and former member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Other results from Tuesday night:

1st Congressional District

State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Audubon) defeated challengers Frank Broomell and Frank Minor in the Democratic primary. Former Philadelphia Eagle Garry Cobb bested Claire Gustafson, Gerard McManus and Lee Lucas on the Republican side.

2nd Congressional District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo defeated Mike Assad by over 10,000 votes in the Republican primary. Bill Hughes, Jr., the son of former U.S. Rep. Bill Hughes, came out on top in the Democratic primary, besting David Cole.

5th Congressional District

In the Democratic primary, Roy Cho defeated Diane Sare. He will face the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.

7th Congressional District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance narrowly defeated challenger David Larsen by just over 2,000 votes in the Republican primary.

10th Congressional District

In the Democratic primary, incumbent U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., handedly defeated Robert Toussaint and Aaron Fraser.

11th Congressional District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen secured the Republican Party’s nod over Rick Van Glahn. In the Democratic primary, Mark Dunec defeated Brian Murphy and Lee Anne Brogowski.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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