In Somerset County, Democratic challenger Darrin Russo defeated Republican candidate Bill Parenti by about 2k votes in the sheriff’s race.
But the freeholder contest on Tuesday night – the real fulcrum of countywide power here – proved too close to call.
Incumbent Republican Freeholder Pat Walsh was holding on on the machines, but down on the VBMs to Democratic challenger Melonie Marano, according to Somerset GOP Chairman Al Gaburo. While Marano led unofficially by 250 votes, Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer and Gaburo agreed to review the VBMs over the next couple of days.
The suspended situation denied Governor Phil Murphy a Tuesday night champagne plunge in Somerville, in what was supposed to be a Democratic takeover of the long red county. Walsh clearly had other plans, as the tenacious former mayor of Green Brook Twp. refused to give up her seat on Tuesday night.
Still, the closeness of the contest in an off year election proved Democrats’ potency in a once rock ribbed Republican county.
Republican north county towns held, as Janice Fields won in Basking Ridge. The GOP also did well south of Route 22, as the Republican mayor of Manville won.