All New Jersey incumbent state lawmakers who faced reelection during the June 6 Primary Election advanced to the Nov. 7 General Election, reinforcing earlier findings which concluded that the decision to vote for legislation to increase a state gas tax has little impact on re-election rates.
Sixty-two lawmakers who voted for the gas tax increase and 35 who voted against the gas tax increase ran for reelection to their seats and won. This includes all 12 sponsors of the bill. Additionally, in the Assembly, two lawmakers who voted for the gas tax increase and one who voted against the gas tax increase ran for a seat in the Senate within the same district and won their primary. Three lawmakers who voted against a gas tax increase ran for the position of governor; none won their primaries. Nine lawmakers did not cast a vote on the 2016 transportation funding measure and won their primaries.
Of the lawmakers who voted for a gas tax increase, 56 were Democrats and 12 were Republicans. Of these, 53 Democratic lawmakers and nine Republican lawmakers ran to renew their seat in the primary and won.
Of the lawmakers who voted against a gas tax increase, 13 were with the Democratic party and 28 were with the Republican party. Of these, 11 Democratic lawmakers and 24 Republican lawmakers ran to renew their seat in the primary and won.
The results confirm an earlier analysis of 2016 primary elections in the eight states that passed a gas tax increase in 2015, which found that 98 percent of Republican and 98 percent of Democratic lawmakers who approved a gas tax increase and ran for their seat in a primary race moved on to the general election, compared to 97 percent of legislators who had voted “no” on the gas tax increase. Additionally, an examination of more than 2,500 state legislators from 16 states found 91 percent of lawmakers who supported legislation to increase their state gas tax between 2013 and 2015 and ran for re-election won their seat during the next general election.
This was the first time New Jersey lawmakers who voted on the 2016 measure to increase the gas tax faced voters. Lawmakers approved legislation in October 2016 that increased the state gas tax by 23 cents-per-gallon and the diesel tax by 27 cents-per-gallon effective Nov. 1, 2016, in order to generate $2 billion annually in new revenue for transportation infrastructure. Combined with matching federal funds and bonds, the legislation is expected to enable $32 billion in transportation investment over the next eight years. As a compromise to balance the tax increase, the measures also included several tax cuts. New Jersey was the only state to approve a gas tax increase in 2016.