Ocean County Republicans voted to kick Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove (R-Long Beach) off the county organizational line in the 9th legislative district tonight, instead giving their backing for two Assembly seats to Assemblyman Brian Rumpf (R-Little Egg Harbor) and Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre. Rumpf came in first with 96 votes; Myhre got 67 votes, while Gove was a close third with 56.
After the results were announced, Gove said that she was undecided about whether to continue running off-the-line, but that she was proud of the campaign she had waged.
“I fought the good fight,” Gove said. “I may not have garnered the votes, but I never compromised my integrity, my principles, my values. I’m proud of that.”
Myhre and Rumpf will now run on the party line with Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato, who won the county line unopposed to succeed retiring State Sen. Chris Connors (R-Lacey).
“It took a lot of hard work to get here,” Myhre said. “It was a time for change in the 9th district, and I think you’re going to see these types of things across the state as well. People want strong leadership, and they want to have their voices heard throughout the legislative process.”
A number of other candidates who had campaigned for the two Assembly seats – including Lacey Mayor Timothy McDonald, Lacey Township Committeeman Mark Dykoff, Berkeley Councilman James Byrnes, and charter school leader Valerie Smith – did not put their names into nomination on the convention floor to represent the solidly Republican district.
The results were not exactly a surprise, given that Gove had previously lost the endorsement of the Ocean GOP screening committee. The screening committee doesn’t always align with the eventual convention endorsement, but it was an early sign that Gove hadn’t maintained sufficient support within the party.
Rumpf had once appeared to be under threat as well, but he got the backing of the screening committee, and few thought he was in danger of losing tonight.
The 9th district campaign is one of many shakeups taking place in Ocean County this year, following George Gilmore’s return as party chair. Gilmore did not involve himself in the challenges to Rumpf and Gove, but he also didn’t work to protect the incumbents, neither of whom supported his campaign for party chair last year.
Amato, meanwhile, is close to Gilmore, so his uncontested victory will give the party chairman a top ally in the legislature’s upper chamber.