Richard Merkt, who represented Morris County in the New Jersey State Assembly for 12 years, has lost his bid for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
He trailed incumbent Paul Berch, a Democrat, by 1,123 votes in a Democratic district.
Merkt was one of two New Jersey transplants to run in New Hampshire this week.
Matt Mowers, a Bergen County native and New Jersey political staffer who worked in the governor’s office, lost his bid for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st district. Freshman Rep. Christopher Pappas defeated him by a 51%-47% margin.
In a 1995 Republican Assembly primary, Merkt ran with then-Morris County Freeholder Chris Christie. They lost to incumbent Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township).
Two years later, when Bucco challenged State Sen. Gordon MacInnes (D-Morris Township), Merkt went to the Assembly.
Merkt served six terms in the New Jersey Legislature before giving up his seat to seek the Republican nomination for Governor against Christie in 2009. He also served as mayor of Mendham Township and as the Mendham borough administrator.
He won a seat on the New Hampshire Republican State Committee in 2018.
New Hampshire has a 400-member House of Representatives, where seats are often occupied by senior citizens and college students. The post pays $100 annually, plus a travel allotment based on mileage, free in-state EZPass, and the House meets just part of the year.
The 70-year-old Merkt lives in Westmoreland (pop. 1,874), in Cheshire County (pop. 77,117), which is about the size of Parsippany and Montville combined. Cheshire County has 23 members of the state House of Representatives.
The district Merkt lives in has a population of 13,258 – about the size of Hanover Township — and sends four representatives to the Legislature. In 2018, Democrats captured all four seats; Republicans lost by 934 votes.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried Merkt’s district by 998 votes over Donald Trump, a 57.5%-42.5% district.
In New Jersey, Merkt’s legislative district was about 17 times larger than the one he is seeking in New Hampshire.