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Anthony Verrelli. (Nikita Biryukov for New Jersey Globe)

How Verrelli won

Hunterdon Dems put him over the top

By David Wildstein, July 31 2018 10:20 am

Anthony Verrelli won a seat in the State Assembly by just five votes in a second ballot win over Jeffrey Laurenti, according to an internal tally obtained by the New Jersey Globe and verified by a Mercer County Democrat.

Democrats had declined to release the vote tallies last Thursday.

Verrelli, a Mercer County Freeholder, led Laurenti by a vote of 93-79 on the first ballot, with 23 votes going to Hopewell Mayor Kevin Kuchinski, and two votes for Fatima Mughal, a progressive activist from Ewing.

On the second ballot, Verrelli defeated Laurenti, a former executive director of Senate Democrats in the 1980’s, by a vote of 99-95.

Of the 25 votes for Kuchinski and Mughal, it appears that Laurenti picked up sixteen and Verrelli gained six. Three county committee members who voted on the first ballot didn’t stick round for the second.

According to several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, nine votes came out of the Hunterdon County portion of the district and it was no secret that the nine supported Verrelli.  That means Verrelli, despite endorsements from Democratic officials, won just 49% of the Mercer portion of the district on the first ballot and 49% in Mercer on the second ballot.  Hunterdon put him over the top.

The special election convention to fill the 15th district seat was necessitated by the resignation of Reed Gusciora to become mayor of Trenton on July 1.   The vote had a voter turnout of approximately 70%.

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