SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - In New Jersey politics, people often joke that where presidential elections are concerned, our votes don't matter but our wallets do. In 2016, the Somerset Hills has opened its collective wallet for the presidential primaries in both parties, especially with two candidates who frequent the Somerset Hills. At this point in the race, many analysts believe that New Jersey's primary votes might make a difference in 2016.
Senator Bernie Sanders has resisted the call to get out of the Democratic Party nomination race, and to allow the party to coalesce behnind Hilary Rodham Clinton. Secretary Clinton leads the race for committed delegates, with 1,690 committed delgates to 946 for Sanders. She needs only about thirty-five per cent of the remaining available delegates to clinch the nomination.
If you ask a Sanders supporter what they think of the race, the Sanders supporter will point to another interesting statistic. The race between Clinton and Sanders is actually much closer when you remove the unelected Super Delegates. Super Delegates are members of the party establshment, elected officials and party chairs. Super Delegates are not bound by the result of a primary or caucus. Secretary Clinton has won 57% of the delegates determined through the democratic process. He lead swells when you add the Super Delegates, ninety-five per cent of whom have committed to support her.
Senator Sanders' only clear path to the nomination seems to be an indictment of Secretary Clinton. However, he vows to stay in the race, so Democrats in the Somerset Hills will still have a chance to make their voice heard, at least symbolically.
The free-for-all cage match that has been the Republican nominating process leaves Somerset Hills Republican primary voters with more of a chance to make a difference in the process than their Democrat brothers and sisters.
Donald Trump leads the Republican race with 739 commited delegates, about 500 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination. While he leads the race, he needs significantly more than half of the remaining delegates to secure the GOP nomination.
New Jersey holds its primary on June 7, the final day of the primary season. New Jersey's primary is a winner-take-all primary, so any candidate who can attract the most votes will win all of New Jersey's 51 delegates. If the party caucuses around the state are any indication, Trump holds an advantage over Governor Kasich and Senator Cruz among Garden State Republicans.
With the nomination still up for grabs, Trump may be able to clinch victory by winning New Jersey on June 7, which might set up a three-way primary race here. Trump has the support of Governor Christie and his political apparatus. Governor Kasich has the support of a nascent grassroots operation here in New Jersey led by none other than former Congressman Dick Zimmer, who represented the Somerset Hills in the House of Representatives from 1991-1997. Kasich also enjoys the vocal support of Somerset Hills native and former Governor Christie Whitman.
New Jersey Conservative icon Steve Lonegan leads the Cruz contingent. Lonegan is the former New Jersey State Director of Americans for Prosperity. He is a past nemesis of Governor Christie who gave then-candidate Christie a run for his money in the 2009 GOP primary for governor.
The battle lines in the party are familiar ones within the state party. If Kasich can stay in the race, then Somerset Hills Republicans may see something that it has not seen in four decades: A contested presidential primary.