Bergen County is the largest county in New Jersey with about 950,000 people.
That makes it quite the political prize. Which is why things are interesting.
A traditional Republican bastion until recently, Democrats now hold all county offices, the congressional seats representing the county and a majority of state legislative districts. Moreover, the Dems’ voter registration lead over Republicans is at about 100,000.
But things can always change. That has Jack Zisa (pictured), the county’s Republican chair, feeling optimistic.
“We are very excited to see so many Republicans declaring that they want to be candidates in the 2024 election. After suffering through the radical progressive administrations of Joe Biden and Gov Phil Murphy – whose policies have trickled down to Bergen County government; we believe voters are ready for a change to leaders who put America’s middle class ahead of criminals, illegal aliens and far left causes.”
That may seem like standard political rhetoric to some, but there’s no denying many Republicans want to run for county office in 2024. Interest is always good.
Up this year on the board of commissioners are seats held by Steven Tanelli and Tracy Silna Zur. Both were elected for the first time back in 2012.
Five Republicans are seeking the party’s two endorsements for commissioner. They are:
Thomas Toscano, Linda Barba, Timothy Walsh, Michael Joseph and David G. Plotkin.
The most interesting race taking shape, however, is for sheriff where the Democratic incumbent is Anthony Cureton.
Cureton got elected in 2021 by beating Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler, who wants a rematch.
Kugler was under state indictment at the time of the 2021 race for allegations that he improperly ordered police escorts to serve his family business, a funeral home. But those allegations have since been dismissed.
Also in the race for the Republican endorsement for sheriff are Christopher Musto and Michael Devine.
Two congressional districts cover parts of Bergen.
In CD-5, four Republicans want to challenge incumbent Josh Gottheimer. They are:
Mary Jo-Ann Guinchard, Chandiha “Sandy” Gajapathy, George Song and Dierdre Paul.
Then there’s CD-9, which suddenly seems a bit more interesting on the Democratic side. The news just surfaced that Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter is considering a primary challenge to incumbent Bill Pascrell Jr.
Putting that possible battle aside, the Republicans who want to go to the House are Billy Prempeh, who lost to Pascrell the last two cycles, and Hector Castillo.
As we said, Bergen has become strongly Democratic, but as Zisa notes, having a lot of candidates from which to choose is a good thing and should make the party convention on March 19 a lot of fun.