- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

Here are 5 things to watch as New Jersey’s election season ramps up:

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BOOKER’S TEST

Jeff Bell is trying to become the first Republican from New Jersey to be elected to the U.S. Senate since 1972. He’s running against Democratic incumbent Cory Booker.

Booker, a former Newark mayor, won a special election in 2013 to complete the term of the late Frank Lautenberg. A Quinnipiac poll in August showed Bell 10 points behind Booker.

Booker is planning a series of campaign kickoff events around the state this week.

Bell, who was on the U.S. Senate ballot in 1978, meanwhile, is trying to get attention for the issue at the center of his candidacy: raising interest rates and returning the dollar to the gold standard.

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THE HOUSE VARIABLE

Two years ago, New Jersey elected six Republicans and six Democrats to the U.S. House.

Even though one incumbent resigned this year and two others aren’t seeking re-election, only one race is seen as particularly competitive.

That’s in the 3rd District - now held by Republican Jon Runyan, who isn’t seeking re-election. Republican Tom MacArthur, a former mayor of Randolph who has put $3 million of his own money into his campaign, is facing Democrat Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chose the seat for one of its first two Independent Expenditure television ads of the midterms, and it has reserved $1.3 million in airtime for the race through Election Day. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been fighting back. It has booked $1.8 million worth of TV airtime in the Philadelphia broadcast market, which could be used for ads in this district and in two potentially competitive Pennsylvania races.

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EX-NFLER GETTING ATTENTION

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