Sen. Vin Gopal wins reelection, handing New Jersey Democrats a key victory
Monmouth County Democrat leads GOP challenger by more than 11,000 votes
Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), who won reelection with 60% of the vote Tuesday night, smiles during his victory speech at Avenue in Long Branch on Nov. 7, 2023. (Sophie Nieto-Munoz | New Jersey Monitor)
Monmouth County Democrat Sen. Vin Gopal coasted to reelection in the 11th District Tuesday , nabbing nearly 60% of the vote over GOP candidate Steve Dnistrian and helping to flip control of both of the district’s Assembly seats for Democrats.
Gopal’s victory in this closely watched race came amid Republican attacks on his stances on offshore wind, crime, and LGTBQ issues in schools. His election to a third term in the state Senate dimmed GOP hopes that they could take control of the chamber.
“What we did tonight in Monmouth County is we drew political parties together to bring this massive landslide. If that doesn’t send a message to our opposition, I don’t know what will,” Gopal said to a crowd of about 300 supporters Tuesday night in Long Branch.
Gopal and his running mates —Assemblywomen-elect Margie Donlon and Luanne Peterpaul — were introduced by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who said the trio showed that the Republican-leaning 11th District “is no longer competitive.”
Gov. Phil Murphy also joined the festivities, whooping and cheering after the speeches wrapped up.
“You are rocking, baby!” Murphy told the crowd of energetic supporters.
Throughout the night, as it became clear Gopal would win, his supporters chanted, “Win with Vin!”
On the campaign trail, Gopal focused on abortion, tax relief, and increased school funding for local districts. He also highlighted his bipartisanship and his support from law enforcement.
Democrats said voters clearly rejected the GOP’s arguments on parental rights. Republicans had hoped legal battles between the Murphy administration and some Monmouth County school districts — battles focused on whether school employees should be required to tell parents if their children change their gender identity or sexuality — would boost the GOP in this district.
Murphy called Tuesday’s outcome a “huge validation of our collective agenda, and that has been extraordinary.”
“This should tell every Republican senator that when you’re running on culture wars, you’re not doing anything productive for residents on affordability, taxes, mental health. That should tell you that your message is not a good one,” Gopal said.
Republican Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno and Kim Eulner lost their seats to Donlon and Peterpaul by about 7,000 votes each. Dnistrian, a businessman who has never held elected office, did not immediately comment on the election results.
“It’s a good night for Democrats,” Scutari said. “I feel great.”
This year, Democrats spent millions to defend Gopal’s seat and flip the two Assembly seats, making it one of the most expensive races in state history. In 2021, Gopal won reelection with 52% of the vote, but his running mates lost to Eulner and Piperno.
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