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Bill Pascrell Jr. defeated Steve Rothman for a chance at a ninth term in Congress in a primary between the onetime New Jersey Democratic allies and will face Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author of “Kosher Sex,” Nov. 6.
Pascrell, 75, got 61 percent of the vote to Rothman’s 39 percent, according to results from the Associated Press. The two incumbents squared off after the state lost a congressional seat and following redistricting based on the 2010 U.S. Census.
Republican Boteach, 45, from Englewood, is the author of 27 books, including one based on his relationship as spiritual adviser to pop star Michael Jackson. He won 58 percent of the vote against Hector Castillo and Blase Billack, according to AP.
New Jersey’s redrawn boundaries would have put Rothman, 59, in the 5th District against incumbent Republican Scott Garrett, hailed as a “a beacon of light” by Tea Party activists. Rothman instead moved from Fair Lawn to Englewood, where he had been mayor, to challenge Pascrell in the 9th District. Rothman and Pascrell had almost identical voting records in Congress.
Pascrell was endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and the two appeared June 1 in Paterson, New Jersey’s third largest city by population, where Pascrell had been mayor. He also had help from John Lewis, the 72-year-old Democratic congressman and civil-rights leader from Georgia, who recorded telephone messages on his behalf.
Rothman distributed a photo of himself strolling with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, outside the White House on June 1 after an Oval Office meeting. The president didn’t endorse Rothman, who was a supporter when Obama, a former U.S. senator from Illinois, was running against Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination. Pascrell backed her.
Pascrell may have an edge over Boteach in the November general election because the district’s registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one, according to the state elections division.
The Democratic opponents arrived in Washington at the same time and had developed “a good friendship,” Rothman said in an interview in January.
“Friends don’t treat each other this way,” Pascrell said.
Pascrell voted with his party 94 percent of the time, and Rothman 93 percent, according to OpenCongress.org, a nonpartisan research website.
Rothman conceded to “my friend” Pascrell in a speech broadcast on public television station NJTV before the final tally. He said he doubted he would run for public office again.
Pascrell spoke to supporters in Paterson. “I’ve always had your back,” he said. “You had my back in this election.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Elise Young in Trenton at firstname.lastname@example.org
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