Friday, December 19th, 2014

From the Truth-O-Meter to the voting booth: New Jersey’s election results

Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan (right) won reelection over Republican challenger Vince Polistina in Atlantic County in one of the state's most hotly contested races
Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan (right) won reelection over Republican challenger Vince Polistina in Atlantic County in one of the state's most hotly contested races

There’s no doubting this fact about yesterday’s election results: to no one’s surprise, Democrats held onto control of the state Legislature.

With all 120 legislative seats up for grabs, Democrats gained one seat in the state Assembly, bringing the breakdown there to 48-32. In the state Senate, the Democrats maintained their current position of 24-16.

Here’s a look at how candidates performed in three races where campaign ads were put to the Truth-O-Meter:

Brawl at the beach

In one of the state’s most closely watched races, state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) held on to win reelection in the 2nd Legislative District over the Republican challenger, Assemblyman Vince Polistina, according to unofficial election results.

Last month, PolitiFact New Jersey issued a Mostly False to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee for a "hypocritical" campaign ad sent on Whelan’s behalf. The ad alleged that Polistina was collecting  "nearly $70,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries -- plus a government pension."

We found that Polistina is collecting nearly $70,000 in public salaries, but not a pension. Yet Whelan is collecting two taxpayer-funded salaries totaling more than $100,000 and a monthly pension of more than $2,600.

Getting Dirty in Monmouth

In the 11th Legislative District, which represents Monmouth County, the Republican team of Sen. Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande staved off a challenge from Democratic Senate candidate Raymond Santiago and Assembly hopefuls Vin Gopal and Kathleen Horgan, according to unofficial election results.

That GOP victory comes despite the fact that a campaign ad in that race led to a Pants on Fire ruling on the Truth-O-Meter.

The New Jersey Republican State Committee received our lowest ruling because of a misleading ad targeting Gopal. The ad wrongly tied Gopal to the criminal activities of former state Assemblyman Joseph Vas.

GOP Falls Short In Bergen

Marking a blow to New Jersey Republicans, Democratic state Sen. Robert Gordon won reelection over Republican candidate John Driscoll, Jr. in the 38th Legislative District, according to unofficial election results. As with the Whelan-Polistina race, the GOP was hopeful Driscoll could turn the election in its favor.

A campaign ad from Driscoll received a Mostly False last month for alleging that because Gordon supported a property tax exemption for Newark’s Prudential Center, voters in Bergen and Passaic counties would face higher costs.

To learn more about the results of these and other elections, go to NJ.com.