Sometimes the best, if not the only, way to get rid of incumbents in New Jersey is for the party boss to “disown” them.
That seems to be the case in Monmouth County.
Serena DiMaso is one of two Republican Assembly members from LD-13, which covers a good chunk of GOP-leaning Monmouth. DiMaso, however, is on the outs with Shaun Golden, the county’s Republican chair and for good measure, the county sheriff to boot.
Monmouth Republicans are scheduled to convene Thursday night to endorse two Assembly candidates in this year’s election.
One is destined to be incumbent Gerry Scharfenberger.
As for the other seat, Chair Golden is backing Vicky Flynn, contending that Flynn and Scharfenberger will make an “excellent team.”
In a lengthy letter explaining his decision to “dump” DiMaso from the ticket, Golden starts by saying that the incumbent has not supported Republican values. Specifically, he says DiMaso has been investigated for alleged ethical violations – thereby putting the entire GOP Assembly caucus in “legal jeopardy” – and seems too cozy with affordable housing.
As chair of the planning board in her hometown of Holmdel, Golden says DiMaso has “allowed the construction of high-density housing on multiple occasions” near the borders of neighboring towns. Affordable housing rules in New Jersey long have been criticized by Republicans.
At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that a planning board can not simply reject housing proposals as long as they comply with municipal law and zoning regulations. That invites litigation.
DiMaso is not going quietly.
Her campaign is accusing Golden of “intimidation,” contending that the chair is talking retribution to those who object to his Assembly choices. According to the DiMaso campaign, that includes threatening those who don’t play ball with loss of county jobs, contracts and political position.
Golden seems unlikely to change course.
“Time and time again, Serena has failed us,” he says.
Not surprisingly, there is also controversy over the convention itself with the DiMaso camp calling for a “secret ballot.”