Doherty to Retire from the State Senate, Backs Steinhardt to Succeed Him

A gutsy, back-to-the-wall campaigner, strong committee inquisitor, patriot and principled public servant, state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) wants to retire from the Legislature after 20-plus years of service.

“It’s time to give someone else a shot,” Doherty told InsiderNJ, ahead of the 2023 legislative election cycle.

The retired United States Cold War Army Captain and attorney who earned a reputation over two decades as a straight-shooting and straight-talking movement conservative, instead will seek the Warren County Surrogate seat.

His allies anticipate that Doherty will receive the full support from the Warren County GOP at a special convention on Wednesday evening.

No one else is pursuing the seat.

A West Point grad with an incorruptible commitment to public priorities, Doherty backs Warren County GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt – former state chair of the Republican

NJ Republican Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt
Warren County Republican Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt.

Party – to succeed him as the 23rd District Senator.

The former state director of the 2016 Donald Trump Presidential Campaign, Doherty impressed observers in Trenton with his integrity and insistence on unbought representation for his constituents. Despite his hard-nosed politics, he engendered goodwill from his colleagues who respected his consistent stand on principle and his willingness to engage on issues.

A mountain man with a West Jersey profile, the Point Pleasant-born Doherty in fact learned his politics in Essex County, where the Glen Ridge High  School grad gained a particular aversion to the Democratic Party machine.

InsiderNJ asked him what he would miss the most about serving in the senate. Doherty said he enjoyed serving with Republican Governor Chris Christie, and working on pension and benefits reform.

But he mostly said he would miss relishing the tough campaign fights and victories, most significantly for him the 2009 Republican Primary, when he won the 23rd District state senate seat without the support of the party organizations.

In a scrap for the senate seat held by Leonard Lance (who had won a 2008 bid for the 7th District Congressional seat) with slate mate Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, Doherty won against the odds to secure the senate seat, a post he would hold for the next 12 years.

While his opponent mostly relied on the organization, Doherty ran a door-to-door military operation, heavy on family values, budget hawkishness, and flinty conservative issues.

Karrow ran with the backing of Christie, who had all district organizational support, while Doherty ran with fellow movement conservative Steve Lonegan, who lost his primary statewide while doing well in the 23rd District.

A patent attorney by trade, Doherty, 59, said he intends to close his law office to assume the full-time position of surrogate should he emerge victorious from next year’s general election in the deep red Republican county.

The late Warren County Surrogate Kevin M. O’Neill died in April.

Elected in 2010, Mr. O’Neill was in his third term as surrogate at the time of his passing, according to Warren County government.

“During his career as a public servant, Mr. O’Neill brought a sense of professionalism to his office but also great compassion to everyone who came through the door, understanding that most people when they came to his office were experiencing terrible grief.  He personally spoke with nearly every applicant coming to the Surrogate Court, treating them with sympathy and understanding.

“Under his leadership, many of the surrogate’s procedures were modernized and computerized and he was able to reorganized the office to reduce staff.  He supervised the move of the Surrogate’s offices from the Warren County Courthouse to its current location on Front Street.”

The 7th Congressional District seat snagged by Lance in 2008, prompting him to give up his state senate seat, now forms the dimensions of the state’s chief 2022 battleground, as the Democrat who defeated Lance, U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski seeks to defend the seat against former state Senator Tom Kean Jr.

NJ State Senator Mike Doherty says that President Donald Trump made a good decision to call off an air strike on Iran.
Senator Doherty, left, with former Senator Kip Bateman.
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