Home>Campaigns>Dunn screens for NJ-11 GOP congressional nod in Passaic County
Assembly Candidate Aura Dunn
Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham). (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Dunn screens for NJ-11 GOP congressional nod in Passaic County

Assemblywoman taking steps to challenge Sherrill; Schneiderman says he won’t seek organization line in Passaic for run against Gottheimer

By David Wildstein, January 15 2022 6:25 pm

Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) seems to be headed toward a run for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district, appearing before the Passaic County Republican screening committee on Saturday, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Dunn has not yet announced if she will take on Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), but she ended her remarks to the Passaic GOP with a line that indicates that she’s serious.

“Once again, my name is Aura Dunn, and I am running for Congress,” she said.

The Morris County assemblywoman was one of seven contenders who addressed the Republican screening committee, the first step toward receiving the organization line.

Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, Morris GOP State Committeeman Larry Casha, former assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot, former Ridgefield Park councilman Robert Kovic, attorney Larry Friscia, and Iraq War U.S. Army veteran Toby Anderson appeared before the GOP panel.

Dunn told the New Jersey Globe on Friday that she has not said no to a run against Sherrill.  Republican leaders have been pushing her to get into the race.

A former Sesame Street lobbyist and district director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), Dunn won re-election to the State Assembly by a landslide margin last November.

Little Falls, Totowa, Woodland Park and most of Wayne are in the newly-drawn 11th district.

Three Republicans seeking the chance to challenge Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) in the 5th district also appeared before the screening committee: Nick De Gregorio, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; 2020 nominee Frank Pallotta; and the newest candidate, businessman Fred Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, who has brought on former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway as a top advisor, announced that he was not seeking the Passaic Republican organization line.

“Frank has been running for Congress for the last two years.   Nick announced his candidacy in 2021,” he said.  “I announced six days ago.”

Instead, Schneiderman told GOP leaders that he attended the meeting “simply to introduce myself.”

“None of you have had an opportunity meet me, I believe it’s unreasonable for me to stand before you and, in the three minutes allotted to me, ask for your vote today,” Schneiderman said.  “Over the course of this campaign, I hope to earn your confidence, and then on June 7, win your vote.”

Pallotta won the line in Passaic in 2020, defeating defeated Montvale mayor Michael Ghassali by a 15 to 4 vote, with Hector Castillo, a Paterson native, receiving two votes.  Ghassali eventually dropped out of the race.

Pallotta’s win in Passaic was a setback for former Cresskill councilman John McCann, who won the Passaic line by a 19-4 vote in 2018 against Steve Lonegan.  He received no votes in 2020.

In the primary, Pallotta carried the Passaic County portion of the district by a 56%-22% margin over McCann.   He scored a 52%-32% win in the primary despite McCann having the line in Bergen.

Under the new congressional map, Ringwood, Wanaque, Bloomingdale and West Milford are now in the 5th.

Two candidates are seeking support to challenge Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) in the 9th district: U.S. Air Force veteran Billy Prempeh, who won 32% of the vote against Pascrell in 2020; and Patrick Quinn, a realtor from Pompton Lakes.

Quinn had been seeking party support to take on Sherrill but switched to a challenge against Pascrell when his hometown was moved to the 9th after congressional redistricting.

Prempeh won the Passaic line by a 19-3 vote against Tim Walsh, who was the Bergen County Young Republican vice chairman.

Race for County Commissioner

Ringwood Councilman William Marsala, who came within 1,052 votes of winning a county commissioner seat in 2021, will run again in 2022.  He’ll run with Paterson PBA President and former mayoral candidate Alex Cruz.

The Democratic incumbents are Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore.

Former Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald is challenging four-term Democratic Sherriff Richard Berdnik.  Berdnik won 62% in 2019.

Last year’s elections in Passaic County were not decided for two weeks after the election.

Republicans won one county commissioner seat, with Nicolino Gallo outpolling Democratic incumbent Assad Akhter by 739 votes.  The GOP has not won a county commissioner race in twelve years.

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