And now there are five.
Robert Peluso backed out of the race for Morris County freeholder Friday less than an hour before ballot positions were due to be drawn.
The five remaining candidates have created two teams, making for a less unwieldy, but still contentious, Republican primary.
One slate consists of incumbent Deborah Smith, former freeholder John Krickus and Stephen Shaw.
Incumbent John Cesaro and Aura Kenny Dunn form the other slate.
The teams will be grouped together on the ballot.
Friday’s drawing gave the top three spots to the Smith, Krickus, Shaw team.
Cesaro and Dunn will be fourth and fifth.
Even though candidates are grouped together, they will be voted on individually.
Smith said being at the top is worth “a few points.”
And as political consultant Alan Zakin quickly noted, a “few points” can win an election.
In the past, freeholder ballot position has been instrumental in producing results that staggered party leaders.
In 2011, Hank Lyon was in the top spot and eked out an upset win over incumbent Margaret Nordstrom.
A few years before that, another political unknown, James Murray, a former employee in the county engineering department, used a better ballot position to oust incumbent John Inglesino.
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