U.S. Senate Race Between Booker and Bell Highlights NJ Election Day Ballot

NEW JERSEY - Polls are open on Election Day for New Jersey voters between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

In addition to local races and district elections for the House of Representatives, the one statewide choice on the ballot in New Jersey is the U.S. Senatorial race between Democrat incumbent Cory Booker and Republican challenger Jeff Bell.

Booker's incumbency comes with an asterisk, as he has spent the last 12 months finishing out the term of deceased Senator Frank Lautenberg, who passed away in June 2013. After Lautenberg's death, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had the option of appointing someone to serve out the remainder of Lautenberg's term, however Christie instead named an interim Senator, state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, to the position and set up a Special Election for October 2013.

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Booker, at the time the Mayor of Newark, defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in that Special Election.

The Democrats currently hold a 53-45 advantage over the GOP in Senate seats held, with two independents. While national pollsters are projecting a strong probability that the Republicans will likely close that gap and may even win control of the upper chamber, Booker--with the advantage of a much larger campaign budget--has consistently polled comfortably ahead of Bell, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who developed Governor Reagan’s first proposals for federal tax and spending reduction when Reagan first ran for president in 1976. During the 1980 campaign, Bell was elected from New Jersey as a Reagan delegate to the Republican national convention.

On the issue of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which many pundits feel will be a catalyst in Senatorial and Congressional races nationwide on Tuesday, Booker is an advocate of full implementation of Obamacare  (http://www.booker.senate.gov), while Bell has come out in favor of repealing the law and redirecting its subsidies "into a refundable tax credit generous enough to enable everyone to afford catastrophic health insurance – the kind that ensures no one is confronted with a financially devastating hospital bill," according to Bell's campaign website, http://bell2014.com.

In the House of Representatives, 12 seats from New Jersey are being contested. The Republicans currently hold 234 congressional seats to 199 for the Democrats.

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