Incumbent Somerset Commissioners Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy emerged as 2021 victors today after the clerk counted remaining vote by mail ballots, according to Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer.
Robinson of Franklin Twp. had moved into the second position after the last vote count late last week.
Today, Sooy of Bernardsville moved into the second spot behind Robinson for the win, over Republican challengers Mike Kirsh and Amber Murad.
Per Steve Peter, Somerset County Clerk:
The only thing not there are Early Voting provisional votes (Robinson 241, Sooy 238, Kirsh 134, Murad 134) and some hand counts.
On Election Night, Kirsh led the field.
Somerset County GOP Chairman Tim Howes declared him victorious in the Somerset County Commissioners’ race.
Kirsh’s running mate, Murad, was bunched in a pack with incumbent Democrats Robinson and Sooy, in a race that was too close to call.
“Mike Kirsh is the leader Somerset County needs and richly deserves,” Howes said.
But he will have to wait for another contest. according to Schaffer, who said the VBMs gave her two allies the win to maintain 5-0 Democratic Party control of the Somerset Commission.
Democrats ended up doing well amid the bloodbath that finished off others in their party.
Four years after he campaigned with Kim Guadagno, herself beaten 50-48% by Democrat Phil Murphy in Somerset, and having barely survived his last reelection effort by a few hundred votes, state Senator Kip Bateman (R-16), the towering GOP figure in these parts – following a long and painful gaze at reality – opted out of running again.
In the time between then and now, Democrats took over the Somerset Board of Commissioners, finally eradicating the last countywide vestiges of Republican seats last year, cycling around to present its first two commission victors back to the voters again this year for a reelection review.
Somerset Commission Director Robinson (a resident of the most overwhelmingly Democratic town in the county: 23,100 Democrats to 6,400 Republicans) and Commissioner Sooy of Bernardsville each sought another three-year term this year, with Murphy at the top of their ticket and Bateman gone, supplanted by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16), a Princeton plasma physicist who made his own march to power over roughly the same span of time. Intent on reclaiming their territory, Republicans put together a commissioner ticket of Bridgewater Councilman Kirsh and Watchung School Board Member Murad, who ran – in the LD16 portion of Somerset – with senate candidate former Congressman (and current Bridgewater business administrator ) Mike Pappas, under the auspices of former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), the GOP nominee for governor.
Manville went big for Republicans and so did Bridgewater.
But neither GOP performance in those towns nor Ciattarelli coattails did enough to pull the countywide ticket, as Robinson and Sooy won.