Christian Onuoha will win a write-in contest for the sixth congressional district’s Republican nod, the New Jersey Globe projects.
The one-time challenger to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin leads rival Republican Sammy Gindi 254 votes to 88 in Monmouth County, where 774 GOP write-in votes were cast.
The results there mean Onuoha has secured the 200 votes needed to get a write-in campaign on the ballot. Neither he nor Gindi filed the 200 signatures needed to land a spot on the primary ballot.
Marlboro resident Feiby Dawod received 38 votes in the county, and while it’s unclear exactly how many votes remain uncounted in Monmouth County, Onuoha’s lead there combined with his lead in Middlesex County have all but secured him the Republican nod to take on Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch).
In Middlesex, Onuoha received 113 write-in votes — another eight voters misspelled Onuoha’s last name or shortened his first name.
Gindi has received just 11 votes there. Pallone got 17 write-in votes in the Republican primary.
But the Republican candidate isn’t ready to give up the race, citing outstanding votes in Monmouth.
“I am personally not ready to concede until the total vote numbers come out, especially with the concern I have in [West Long Branch] alone with people I know who voted not being counted yet but showing as received,” Gindi told the New Jersey Globe. “A lot of other towns haven’t been counted yet either.”
Onuoha leads his opponent 20 votes to six in West Long Branch, Gindi’s home town. Republicans cast 68 ballots there, and Gindi said he believed votes backing him for the party nod have yet to be counted.
Onuoha did not immediately respond to a 10:43 a.m. call seeking comment.
The victory puts Onuoha, a relative political unknown, into an uphill fight against a longtime congressman serving a staunchly-Democratic district.
In 2018, Pallone, who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, won re-election with 64% of the vote. He’s held his seat since 1988.