House races feature party-switcher Van Drew, Dems on defense

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The presidential contest in New Jersey doesn't look competitive, with Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by double digits, but a handful of the state's dozen House districts are shaping up as competitive.

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New Jersey voters will be electing representatives in all 12 U.S. House districts in November's first-ever mostly mail-in election.

Democrats are on defense in three seats they picked up in 2018, but perhaps the highest-profile race is in the 2nd District where Republican incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew faces Democrat Amy Kennedy for the seat he won as a Democrat in 2018.

Van Drew gained national attention for switching parties during the House impeachment of the Republican Trump, saying there was no place for him in the Democratic Party as an opponent of impeachment. The defection won Van Drew, who pledged his “undying support” to the president, an Oval Office visit as well as a Trump rally in Wildwood. He also had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.

In all of the most watched districts, unaffiliated voters have the most registrations, followed by Democrats. Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats across New Jersey by more than 1 million registered voters. Democrats recently surpassed people registered as unaffiliated and currently have 177,000 more registrations.

A look at some of the most-watched races:

2nd DISTRICT

Van Drew is well known in the district, and the GOP there has embraced him, even after spending years trying to defeat him in the state Legislature, where he served as a Democrat.

Kennedy is a former teacher and the spouse of former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy is the son of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

New Jersey's 2nd District covers about the southern third of the state and includes all or part of eight counties. It runs from the southern Philadelphia suburbs in the west to the shore resort towns along the Atlantic Ocean, including Atlantic and Ocean cities.

There are about 707,000 people in the district, according to the Census Bureau. More than 500,000 residents are white, while over 91,000 are Black. Hispanics account for 121,000. The median income is $68,000.

Van Drew won the district in 2018 by eight points over Republican Trump supporter Seth Grossman.

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3rd DISTRICT

Freshman Democratic incumbent Rep. Andy Kim faces former Hill International executive David Richter, the Republican in the race. Richter had planned to run against Van Drew but changed districts when he switched parties.

The 3rd District stretches from suburban Philadelphia's Burlington County in the west, across the Pinelands, to Ocean County in the east. Burlington is a Democratic stronghold, while Ocean is reliably Republican.

The district's 736,000 people have a median income of about $86,000, according to the Census Bureau. About 582,000 residents are white. Eighty-five thousand are Black, while 67,000 are Hispanic.

Kim defeated Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in 2018 by one point, in part because of Democratic strength in Burlington.

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7th DISTRICT

Freshman Democrat Tom Malinowski is taking on Tom Kean Jr., the state Senate Republican Minority Leader and son of former GOP Gov. Tom Kean.

The 7th District includes parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union and Warren counties, and all of Hunterdon. Its 734,000 residents are mostly white, with 37,000 Black residents and 105,000 who identify as Hispanic, according to the Census. The district is also home to 88,000 people who identify as Asian.

The median income in the district is $116,000, among the highest in the state.

Malinowski defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018, 52% to 47%.

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11th DISTRICT

Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat and former prosecutor and Navy pilot, is running for her second term against GOP attorney Rosemary Becchi.

Northern New Jersey 11th District covers parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties. It has the highest median income among the state's congressional districts at $121,000, according to the Census.

Most of the district's 718,000 residents are white, and there are 33,000 Black residents, as well as 83,000 identified as Hispanic. Eighty-three thousand identify has Asian, according to the Census.

Sherrill defeated Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber by 15 points in 2018. The seat was open because GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen retired.