Englishtown Councilman Daniel Francisco has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district and has endorsed Mike Crispi’s challenge to Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester).
Francisco will run for Monmouth County Commissioner on a slate headed by Crispi.
“Truly honored and excited to have him aboard,” Crispi said.
That brings the number of primary opponents for Smith down to five, including realtor and U.S. Army veteran Michael Blasi, attorney David Burg, retired FBI agent Steve Gray, and perennial candidate Tricia Flanagan.
Francisco is challenging incumbents Tom Arnone and Nick DiRocco, who are seeking re-election on the Monmouth organization line.
“As a native of Monmouth, the centralization of power within the party and county apparatus is disgusting; it’s time the people take back the levers of local government through bold leaders with activist hearts,” Francisco said. “We need leaders in county government who cherish our natural rights and aren’t looking for hand-shaking photo ops, just as much as we need them in Washington
Crispi, a conservative podcaster, said that former Freeholder Gary Rich will against Monmouth County GOP Chairman Shaun Golden, who is seeking re-election as sheriff.
Steven Rich, a former Monmouth County Young Republican Chairman, will also run for county commissioner.
Gary Rich sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020, but his campaign lasted just 42 days.
A former two-term Monmouth County freeholder who served as a councilman in South Belmar (now known as Lake Como) and Spring Lake, Rich watched his campaign quickly collapse.
He won just 11 votes at the Union County Republican convention, didn’t get on the ballot for his home county convention t after being a no-show at the Monmouth GOP screening committee, and did poorly at the Somerset GOP convention.
Rich did not seek re-election to a third term as freeholder in 2017 after Republican leaders let him know he would not receive party support.
It’s also not clear if Francisco and Rich will bracket with Republican Ian Smith, who is running off-the-line for Conrgess in the 3rd district, or with one of the House candidates in the 6th district, or another candidate, Nicholas Ferrara.
Monmouth County Republican gave Smith a 67% victory against Crispi at their county convention in February.
In the 6th, the Monmouth GOP is backing County Commissioner Sue Kiley for the chance to take on Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch). Three other Republicans are in the race: Rik Mehta, the 2020 GOP candidate for U.S. Senate; former Republican National Committee staffer Thomas Toomey and Gregg Mele, who was the Libertarian candidate for governor in 2021.
Editor’s note: an earlier quote attributed to Francisco was withdrawn by the campaign.