UPDATE (6/5): As expected, Cory Booker won overwhelmingly, garnering 56% of the vote to Jeff Bell's 42%. Booker was the most popular candidate for office in New Brunswick, where he pulled down 83.6% of the vote on Election Day.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Today is Election Day, and New Jerseyans will send one of seven men to the high office of Senator.
Incumbent Cory Booker is favored to hold onto the US Senate seat that he was first elected to last summer, enjoying a strong advantage over Republican Jeff Bell and five other contenders, including one who is in prison for misuse of funds and another whose slogan of choice appearing on the ballot is "NSA Did 9/11."
Booker, a Democrat, is a fiscal conservative who balanced the City of Newark's budget as its Mayor before running for Senate.
He supports gay rights and women's reproductive rights, as well as the DREAM Act, raising the minimum wage, and expanding social security. He opposes repealing the Patriot Act, but thinks it goes a bit too far. While he supports the right to bear arms, he opposes concealed carry and considers some types of weapons to be too dangerous to legalize.
The Senator believes in man-made climate change and supports a carbon tax, and so-called "cap and trade" policies, in order to counter it.
A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Booker supports affirmative action, and he thinks both race and class should be considered in university admissions. In many circles he is best known for his advocacy of school vouchers, charter schools, and other major changes to the nation's schools.
His opponent Jeff Bell is a Reagan Republican who wants the United States to return to an economy based on the gold standard, and takes many positions that are opposite Booker.
Bell opposes abortion rights, except for women whose lives are in danger, and wants a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (he thinks gay marriage laws cut into religious freedom). He wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a national insurance system available only to people with severe health problems that are unable to buy private health insurance.
Bell calls the minimum wage "redistribution." He supports the right of state and local governments to decide on gun laws.
But there are more than just two candidates in this race. Voters will also be presented with the names of five independent candidates, including two who ran against Booker in the last election.
Antonio N. Sabas is running with the ballot slogan "We Need More." Like Booker, Sabas supports abortion access rights, gun control, giving people access to health care, and greater access to employment, including jobs for teenagers.
Sabas favors economic growth and is wary of government regulation and deficit spending. However, he is not a fan of fracking, and wants safety measures to be established before any fracking occurs near or in a community. Sabas says he supports education, free trade, encouraging businesses to take risks, increasing international connections to our economy, and economic growth in general.
Sabas wants college education to be affordable for all and supports encouraging businesses to educate their employees through tax incentives investing in universities. He also supports infrastructure investment and innovation in general, including transportation, energy, waste treatment, water, and other infrastructure.
In particular, Sabas supports the ready-mixed concrete industry. He wants building codes to be reformed so that buildings are better protected against hurricanes and other natural disasters.
He also supports renewable energy, and wants our immigration system improved upon, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, to better supports economic growth.
Hank Schroeder is running on the "Economic Growth" name. Schroeder is very focused on creating jobs and economic growth, and his plan is to lower taxes and reduce burdens on small businesses, as well as to create incentives to attract businesses from elsewhere to come to New Jersey.
Joseph Baratelli is a Libertarian who believes that force is only to be used in self-defense. However, he also believes that the United States needs a strong defensive force - just not one perennially stationed overseas.
Baratelli considers Social Security to be a Ponzi scheme and wants it to be optional for younger people, phased out in favor of personal savings accounts. In the short term, he wants to subsidize Social Security by downsizing federal government and selling off federal lands.
He opposes gun control and wants campaign finance to be deregulated. He feels that government shouldn't be regulating marriage ("marriage is a right, not a privilege").
Jeff Boss claims that the National Security Agency was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, and that the agency bribed people to keep quiet. He also says that the NSA spies on people in general, and that media outfits refuse to run his ads.
Boss is not just a conspiracy theorist, however. He wants a $14.00/hour minimum wage and would aim to legalize and tax marijuana, and eliminate the state's unpopular red light cameras. He supports free online college education, particularly for people in New Jersey.
Boss also wants unlimited transit passes given to people making under $20,000 a year, as well as affordable housing, state insurance for automobiles, legalizing sports betting, and animal rights.
Boss believes that government employees should not be taxed and supports a casino at the Meadowlands that would help to fund charter schools.
Eugene Martin Lavergne, running with the D-R Party , is a former attorney who was disbarred for stealing money from a client's account. Lavergne was later convicted and faces 5 to 12 years in prison, stands to complicate whatever Senate career he is hoping for.
He appears to be a libertarian and his party asserts that it is a revival of the anti-Federalist "Democratic-Republican" Party of Thomas Jefferson.
Laverge wants there to be 6,322 members of the House of Representatives, one for every 50,000 people in the country. He also wants to limit campaign donations by the rich so that more people have the ability to run for office.