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An open atheist has won — flipped! — a State Senate seat in New Jersey. It’s one of the bright spots in an election night that created plenty of panic on the left.


Andrew Zwicker is exactly the kind of person you wish was in elected office but almost never is. He’s not only a physicist, he’s the head of Communications and Public Outreach at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Unlike the Republicans who treat science as a four-letter word, Zwicker is a proud advocate of the STEM fields.

Since 2016, he’s been in the New Jersey General Assembly.

Earlier this year, the Republican who held the State Senate seat in District 16 announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election. This was a swing seat, with that Republican winning it in 2017 by just under a single percentage point. So Zwicker decided he’d risk his current seat and make a play for it.

On Tuesday night, the election appeared to be going to wrong way. Zwicker was losing when the initial votes were tallied and his race wasn’t called that night because there were mail-in votes still outstanding. But now that those votes are coming in, Zwicker appears to have won the elected by a somewhat comfortable margin, 52% – 48%.

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