InsiderNJ this week chronicled recounts in several key battleground elections, including LD2, which Democrats ultimately won. They were supposed to be fine there, as DACC undertook new frontiers elsewhere, losing LD8, LD21 and LD25.

So the nail-biting win wasn’t really cause for an endzone dance.

There were, however, some other key contests resolved this week:


Peg Schaffer

The Somerset County Democratic Committee chair stuck at for more than a decade to score a 3-2 advantage on the Freeholder Board for her party in the backyard of former Governor (and former Freeholder Director) Christie Todd Whitman. The last time Democrats controlled the board was when Lyndon Johnson was president.

Melonie Marano

After a VBM and provisional ballot count, the former mayor of Green Brook Township prevailed by 856 votes over her Republican rival to win a critical third Democratic Party seat on the five-member Somerset County Freeholder Board.

Shanel Robinson

Elected to the Somerset County Freeholder Board in 2018, senior member Robinson will ascend to the freeholder director position on the heels of Marano’s official 2019 win.

Rue Ryan

Going up against Republican incumbent Kristen Januseki, Democrat Ryan earlier today won – 21-10 – on provisional ballots to snag a 1517 to 1508 win in a control election in Lumberton. It amounted to a tomahawk throw from the 2019 LD8 grave marked for Gina LaPlaca, who could salvage some redemption from a local win by her political protege.

Carolyn Blackman

It’s over in Dover, where Democratic mayoral candidate Blackman – a knife’s edge (to borrow a Murphism) machine tally winner over incumbent James Dodd – secured her 19-vote win after a recount.


Al Gaburo

Ten years of hair breadth escapes and masterful political swordplay could not save the Somerset County Republican Chairman from finally being pushed to the wall, where we went down fighting this week as his incumbent GOP Freeholder fell under the tires of the ongoing Trump curse in Somerset County.

Pat Walsh

The lone Somerset County Freeholder on the ballot this year, Republican Walsh ran an excellent, constituent services-based campaign with a heavy emphasis on voter contact. In the end, it wasn’t enough, as the former mayor of Green Brook Twp. lost to local rival Marano.

Sean Earlen

A week after his countywide candidates got swept, the Burlington County Republican Chairman suffered the double indignity of having to say goodbye to an incumbent in his hometown of Lumberton. The outcome wrenched control of the governing body away from the GOP.

James Dodd

It was over in Dover last week, before a Tuesday recount confirmed what for the incumbent mayor at least was very bad news, which is that it is now truly over in Dover.

The Democratic Party in New Jersey

In an effort to weaken an elected official (Governor Phil Murphy) and empower a non-elected official (South Jersey Power Broker George Norcross III), the party establishment bumped up to condition red a fight for the state party chairmanship and redistricting control when Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones undertook a challenge of Murphy’s choice for chair, Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie. The move represents an unprecedented challenge to to the right of a sitting governor to have his own choice as party chairman. Allied with South Jersey and the network controlled by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and the Democratic caucus, Jones went forward with his candidacy despite the governor’s public show of support for Currie, and efforts by Murphy’s allies to talk him into a consideration of some kind power sharing agreement. A full blown demonstration of the deep divisions within the Democratic Party here in the state that brought you Burr v. Hamilton, Currie v. Jones signifies the ultimate dumb northern chair versus northern chair war (these are the two last-standing members of the so-called county quad that made Murphy governor) to benefit other interests, South Jersey, Middlesex and Union at the very least, and perhaps ultimately the Republican Party, mostly dormant during the Trump years. It will get very ugly, with the reputations of both men hanging in the balance as the two sides undertake a fullscale any-means-necessary backroom war to shore up support among party committee members.

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  1. As the ( on paper) most powerful state executive in the country- governors in NJ don’t usually have to run around and beg people to support their choice to head up the party committee. But nothing is an entitlement – they earn it and are respected or at a minimum feared – certainly within their own party.

    It’s kinda sad seeing Murphy ( and you & others) blame Steve Sweeney, George Norcross (or in his case Chris Christie too!) or unnamed others for his inability to select the chair as some sort of birthright. Perhaps the real story is why – two years in- is the governor so far apart from the entire state committee ( insider insiders of the party that 99% of democratic voters don’t know and could not name) that he is in this situation.

    For the answer the Governor needs to go and look at one of the mirrors in his modest abode.

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