Morris and Somerset counties traditionally have been very kind to Republicans, who used to dominate both counties.
It’s from where the state’s last two elected Republican governors came – Christie Whitman (Somerset) and Chris Christie (Morris).
Things have turned a bit recently.
Republicans still control county government in Morris, but Democrats run things in Somerset.
And the House members representing both counties are Democrats.
GOP officials hope a united front can change things around.
Morris and Somerset Republicans plan a joint fundraiser Sept. 9 at the Burnt Mills Cidery in Bedminster. Billed as an “autumn evening,” the top ticket price is $5,000 for an “Empire sponsor.” General admission is $70 and young Republicans can go for $35.
Laura Ali, the Morris GOP chair, says that she and Tim Howes, her Somerset counterpart, came up with the idea together.
The governor’s race most definitely tops the political agenda this fall, but there are interesting local races as well.
In LD-16, which covers parts of Somerset, Republican Michael Pappas, a former congressman, is trying to keep the party’s hold on a state Senate seat now occupied by the retiring Kip Bateman.
The Democratic candidate is Andrew Zwicker, who is now an assemblyman.
In Morris, the most contested race may be LD-25, where the Republicans’ registration lead is now less than 3,000, according to the state’s latest figures.
The incumbents here are Sen. Anthony M. Bucco and Assembly members Aura Dunn and Brian Bergen.
Dunn acknowledged the changing dynamics in a recent solicitation to supporters in which she said, “LD-25 has become a top target for Democrats. They have become increasingly motivated to flip this district from red to blue.”
She also pointed out that Phil Murphy made a special trip to the district two days before the 2020 vote to urge Dunn’s defeat in what was a special election.
The governor’s journey was unsuccessful, a trend Morris Republicans hope continues.