Chris Myers, the mayor of Medford and a Lockheed-Martin executive, yesterday won the Republican nomination in the Third District to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton, who is retiring.
And Camille Andrews, wife of U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews, was elected as a stand-in nominee to replace her husband in the First District until Democratic party leaders select a candidate to run in the general election. Rep. Andrews gave up his House seat in an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.
Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, the only South Jersey incumbent left in the races for the U.S. House, easily turned back a primary challenge in the Second District from Donna M. Ward, a 46-year-old homemaker from Mantua.
Myers was the winner of a contentious fight between Burlington and Ocean County GOP organizations to replace Saxton, a 24-year veteran of Congress. Myers, of Burlington County, last night appealed to Ocean County voters to "embrace me the same way you embraced Jim Saxton."
Myers will face Democratic State Sen. John Adler, of Cherry Hill, in the general election. Adler ran unopposed in the primary, and with a $1.5 million war chest and national support, he is considered a formidable contender for what has long been seen as a safe Republican seat.
Myers immediately attacked Adler as an "advocate of extreme liberal causes."
Kelly and Myers had run a bruising campaign, with personal attacks and vitriolic ads. But Kelly said he would support Myers because "now the party has to come together" to take on Adler and "the liberal Camden County agenda."
Adler responded by challenging Myers to a series of monthly debates, and said, "If Myers is not afraid of explaining his unconditional support for the failed Bush policies that have punished our middle class and severely tarnished our image abroad, he will accept my debate challenge without any hesitation."
In the strange battle to replace Andrews in the First District, his wife, Camille, easily defeated John Caramanna, a self-employed public-relations consultant, and Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad, a Camden High School social studies teacher.
But Mrs. Andrews has already agreed to give up the nomination to another candidate, if party leaders in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties so choose.
She was selected as a placeholder because her husband's last-minute decision to run for the Senate left little time for Democrats to field a candidate.
So Democratic leaders will select a candidate, probably in late summer.
Among the 30 or so people considered possible candidates for Andrews' seat are Camden County Freeholder Louis Cappelli Jr. of Collingswood, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald of Voorhees, Assemblyman and Paulsboro Mayor John Burzichelli, State Sen. and Gloucester County Freeholder Stephen Sweeney, Burlington County Democratic chairman Rick Perr, and State Sen. and Camden City Council member Dana Redd.
The eventual Democratic nominee in the Camden County-dominated First District will face the winner of the GOP primary, where Dale Glading, founder of a prison ministry, defeated Fernando Powers, 41, a disabled veteran of the first Gulf War who campaigned to get the troops out of Iraq.
In the Fourth District, which stretches across central Jersey and includes a portion of Burlington County, 14-term incumbent Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith and Democratic challenger Joshua M. Zeitz, a former history professor, ran unchallenged.
As polls closed at 8 p.m., officials closed the books on the state's second primary election of the year. New Jersey held a presidential primary on Feb. 5, in an effort to increase its influence in the presidential nominating contest.
The February primary drew about 35 percent of registered voters, far more than the typical June primaries, where turnout has hovered around 10 percent.
Yesterday's voting was light, officials said.
Barbara Rich, 76, of Moorestown, said she never misses an election: "I think the primaries for local and state government are just as important as the presidential ones."
Also casting a ballot at the Moorestown library was Jordan Faizio, 22, who said: "I come out and vote whenever I can. I like complaining, and I figure if I vote, then I can complain."
Carroll Shade voted at the Washington Township municipal building in the morning. "I voted against the incumbents. They have been in too long."
Bob Kipp, 66, of Lumberton, was still trying to decide which Republican to vote for in the Third District contest as he went to the polls at the volunteer fire department in Lumberton.
"It's a toss-up," he said. "Taxes are important to me. Myers and Kelly have promised to cut taxes. I think the war will wind up in a couple years no matter who gets in there."