Incumbent Democratic Rep. Andy Kim has held onto New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, the Associated Press reported around 11 p.m. — declaring his victory over Republican Bob Healey even as Election Day results had yet to come in from Mercer County communities because of a problem with voting machines.

The machines were unable to scan ballots as they came in Tuesday. Votes were instead being tabulated by optical scanners into the night at the county’s board of elections office. But county officials warned that could take days.

And as in every New Jersey race, some mail-in votes won’t be received for close to a week.

There are five Mercer County municipalities in the 3rd Congressional District — Hamilton, Lawrence, Robbinsville, Hightstown and East Windsor – which also includes most of Burlington County and some of Monmouth County. Together, they account for about 21% of voters in the district.

The AP called the 12th District race for incumbent Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman around the same time as it called the Kim-Healey contest. She had been challenged by Darius Mayfield, but was broadly expected to take an easy win. NJ-12 includes portions of Middlesex, Somerset and Mercer counties.

Victory hadn't been as certain for Kim. In recent weeks, NJ-03 became more closely watched as the Cook Political Report changed its rating from "likely Democratic" to "lean Democratic” — signaling Healey might be making headway among voters following a heavy ad buy.

The Kim-Healey race was considered the second-most suspenseful in New Jersey – far behind NJ-07, where incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski and Republican Tom Kean Jr. were facing off. The 7th District hadn't yet been called around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Cook and other analysts had also been keeping an eye on NJ-05, where incumbent Democrat Josh Gottheimer faced a challenge from Republican Frank Pallotta. That race, too, was called for the incumbent shortly after 11 p.m. NJ-05 includes portions of Bergen, Passaic and Sussex counties.

Kim vs. Healey

Kim has been representing the district since he ousted Rep. Tom MacArthur in the 2018’s closest House race. NJ-03 lost several Republican stronghold towns from Ocean County in redistricting late last year. Now, Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans – though there are nearly as many independents as Democrats.

Kim formerly worked for the State Department and the Pentagon. Healey Jr., a former member of a punk rock band, is an executive at the yacht-building company his family owns.

Both candidates benefited from well-funded campaigns. The race saw significant investment from national groups, including the Democrat-backed House Majority PAC, which additionally funded advertisements in New Jersey’s closely watched 7th District, 5th District and the 11th District. An analysis by NJ Spotlight News found more than $3.4 million in outside spending to either boost Healey or oppose Kim. Just over $192,000 was spent by outside groups to support Kim or oppose Healey.

Throughout the campaign, Healey Jr. criticized Kim as too liberal for a moderate district, blaming him for supporting cuts to the defense budget and for “scapegoating law enforcement” (Kim denies that claim, pointing to legislation that increased resources to police). Kim hit Healey in a recent ad for wanting to “cut taxes for multimillionaires like himself, including yacht taxes.”

The two candidates stood apart on abortion. Kim is pro-choice. Healey says he believes abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is endangered. He also says that while he’s personally pro-life, “compromise can and should be achieved when it comes to first-trimester abortions.”

Gottheimer vs. Pallotta

Gottheimer and Pallotta had previously faced off in 2020, when Gottheimer won re-election with a nearly 8-point lead. Pallotta had been endorsed by then-President Donald Trump in that race. In the time since, redistricting further shifted the odds in Gottheimer’s favor, though there are more independents in NJ-05 than people registered with either individual party.

This will be Gottheimer’s fourth term.

Gottheimer — a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton (who stumped for Gottheimer Saturday), as well as a former senior counselor at the Federal Communications Commission — has served in Congress since he ousted seven-term Rep. Scott Garrett in 2016. He’s served on the House Homeland Security Committee and Financial Services Committee and is broadly considered among the more conservative Democrats in Congress. The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University named him most bipartisan Democratic member of the House earlier this year.

Pallotta, a finance professional, co-founded a business to help struggling homeowners and veterans who were affected by the 2008 financial crisis.

bortion issue came into play in the NJ-05 race, as it has in many Congressional races. Gottheimer supports abortion without restrictions. Pallotta has made seemingly inconsistent statements — that he wouldn’t support a national ban, but that he would support federal legislation banning all abortions after 20 weeks. He’s also said abortion questions should be left to states.

Pallotta had criticized Gottheimer for backing off his pledge not to support the Inflation Reduction Act unless it did away with a $10,000, Trump-era cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes. The so-called SALT cap has led to steep overall tax increases for many New Jersey homeowners.

Gottheimer saw far more financial support in the race, still with an extraordinary $14 million on hand as of mid-October, and having spent about $2.7 million over the campaign to that point. Pallotta spent $673,000 and had $263,000 as of mid-October.