Rik Mehta won the Republican organization line in Union County with 58% of the vote, scoring the first victory of the convention season in his bid to take on Democrat Cory Booker.
Mehta defeated Hirsh Singh by a vote of 138 to 82, with former Monmouth County freeholder Gary Rich finishing third with 11 votes and Stuart Meissner in fourth place with 8 votes.
Two other candidates, Tricia Flanagan and Natalie Rivera, received no votes in Union County.
This was the first organization line to be awarded for the 2020 GOP U.S. Senate race.
Meissner, a former New York prosecutor, has the endorsement of Hudson County GOP chairman Jose Arango.
The Union County vote had been expected to go to Singh, who had the backing of Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci, a Westfield resident. Singh’s 34% could be viewed as an indication of Palatucci’s local influence.
Mehta, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, has raised $286,576 for his bid to run against Booker. Mehta, who entered the race on October 17, loaned $255,000 to his campaign and has $190,280 cash-on-hand.
Singh is making his second bid for the Senate. He finished third in a five-candidate field for the 2017 Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Republicans have lost the last sixteen races for U.S. Senate in New Jersey and haven’t won since 1972; only Hawaii has gone longer.