Union County Democrats are preparing for a series of primary fights throughout the county, although some might not materialize, and others could emerge.
Some of the battles stem from a not-yet-healed 2018 race for Democratic county chair between Nicholas Scutari and Colleen Mahr. There are no clear signs that a Scutari rival, State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union) is heavily involved what appears to be a series of bottom-up local skirmishes.
Scutari is unopposed for re-election as Union County chairman, at least so far, but a challenger could emerge if enough changes occur in the June primary. Scutari remains the strong favorite to win.
The local contests could spill over to the top of the ticket if some towns secure a freeholder candidate to hold their ballot position.
Union County has at least one Assembly primary. In the 21st district, the organization has endorsed Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman to take on incumbents Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit). They face a primary from Jill LaZare and Kyla Rodger.
LaZare and Roger could choose to team up together and could opt to run on one of the other emerging lines.
Linden: The war between Scutari and Mayor Derek Armstead continues. Scutari has filed a full slate of candidates for 72 Democratic County Committee seats as he seeks re-election to his post as Linden Democratic municipal chair. Armstead is also expected to file a near-full slate of county committee candidates, including the twenty that are currently aligned with him.
There is also an open seat on the city council, where Armstead is mounting a legal challenge to keep the elected councilman out of office.
Fanwood: Mayor Colleen Mahr, the Democratic municipal chair, is expected to deny party support for county committee to Union County freeholder Alexander Mirabella. The move appears to be in retaliation for Mirabella backing Scutari for county chairman in 2018 over Mahr. Scutari is expected to overrule Mahr – organization by-laws permit that — and put Mirabella on the line in Fanwood – a move that could trigger Mahr running her full slate off the line.
Scutari has reportedly offered Mahr the chance to run on the organization line for mayor, where she is seeking re-election.
Former councilman Jack Molnaar, a Mahr ally who briefly served as Fanwood Democratic municipal chair, has told Democrats he will not back any candidates running on the organization line. There is speculation that Molnaar will jump into the race for freeholder.
Clark: Democratic municipal chair Nancy Sheridan is looking to dump Laura Scutari from her seat on the county committee. Sheridan backed Mahr for county chairman, but Scutari bucked her local organization and voted for her cousin.
Cranford: There is a potential conflict simmering between township committeeman Tom Hannan and Mayor Patrick Giblin. Hannan wanted to stay on as mayor for another year, but Giblin mustered the votes. Hannan could file a slate of township committee and county committee candidates. It’s also possible this was just a threat and that the petitions – if they even exist — will never be filed.
Hillside: A feud between Democratic municipal chairman Anthony Salters and mayor Dahlia Verteese has created a battle for control of the local Democratic party. Salters and Verteese are expected to file full slates of candidates for county committee, with Salters’ ticket running on the organization line.
Roselle: It looks like as many as three rival slates for mayor, council and county committee in Roselle. Armstead is playing heavily in Roselle, where is mayoral candidate is former school board member Archange Antoine. Incumbent Christine Dansereau is allied with Mahr.
Union: There is speculation that Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Roselle) is taking his feud with State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union) into Cryan’s hometown playing in some county committee races. Cryan’s slate with have the line.
Plainfield: Mayor Adrian Mapp is in control of his local party and city council, but faces a challenge from John Campbell, a onetime Republican Assembly candidate and now a school board member.