Rep. Bill Pascrell easily defeated Rep. Steve Rothman on Tuesday in the hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District.
With 98 percent of the vote counted, Pascrell led Rothman 60 percent to 40 percent, the Associated Press reported.
Rothman conceded the race shortly 10:30pm, telling supporters at Fort Lee's that he'd likely never run for office again and would throw his support behind Pascrell, NorthJersey.com reported.
On the undercard of the Pascrell-Rothman showdown, Englewood Rabbi Shmuley Boteach won the Republican nomination in the 9th District and will face Pascrell in November.
The race between the two Democrats and former friends in the reconfigured 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Counties, turned contentious and bitter almost from the outset. Pascrell criticized Rothman , where the latter was mayor in the 1980s, to challenge him instead of keeping his residence in Fair Lawn and challenging Republican Rep. Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District.
The 2010 census determined that New Jersey's population grew more slowly than that of other states, and the Congressional Redistricting Commission consolidated the state’s 13 congressional districts into 12.
“You moved twice, to run the first time and this time,” Pascrell said to Rothman at one debate, marked by heated exchanges, according to NJ Spotlight. “If you’re such a progressive, then why didn’t you run against the leader of the Tea Party? Instead you choose to run against your ‘friend.’”
Pascrell, when asked why he himself didn’t move to challenge Garrett or Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen, said, “I lived in Paterson all my life. I don’t have to move.”
Former President , who was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primaries, while Rothman, who backed now President Barack Obama, met with Obama at the White House and claimed his support, although the President didn’t technically endorse him, according to a Huffington Post report.
At a on May 7, Pascrell was asked to say something nice about his opponent.
“I think he has been a loyal Democrat," Pascrell said. “When it suits his purpose.”
At the same debate, Rothman accused Pascrell of compromising too often with Republicans.
"There's a difference between negotiating in good faith with people on the other side of the aisle, and there's caving in to the other side of the aisle," Rothman said.
But the two candidates’ positions on major issues had been remarkably similar, and after early positive ads in which the two candidates, both of whom were elected to Congress in 1996, simply introduced themselves to voters, they have battled throughout the campaign over who more effectively advocates for "traditional" Democratic values.
On Monday night, mere hours before voters went to the polls, a New Jersey state judge denied Rothman’s request to impound 2,000 vote-by-mail ballots. Rothman had sought the impoundment because of potential voting irregularities with ballots in Passaic County and Paterson.
Passaic County's chief elections administrator granted Rothman's request earlier in the day, but Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella overturned it during a hearing Monday evening in Paterson, The Huffington Post reported.
The congressional run is the first bid for public office for Boteach, a talk show host and author of books including “Kosher Jesus” and “Kosher Sex,” .
Boteach's opponents for the nomination were Blase Billack of Saddle Brook, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at St. John’s University who ran unsuccessfully for Congress two years ago, according to NJ Spotlight, and Herbert Castillo, a semi-retired ophthalmologist with an office in Paterson, who had the most political experience among the GOP contenders, having run as an independent for governor but finishing third in 2005.