Freehold Township Board of Education president Michael Amoroso and former Hugin for Senate staffer Matthew Woolley are emerging as the leading Republican candidates to take on two-term incumbents Joann Downey (D-Freehold) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) for State Assembly in the 11th district.
Two other candidates are seeking GOP support: Pearl Lee, who won 41% of the vote in her bid to become mayor of Red Bank last year; and Glenn Parada, a mortgage banker and U.S. Army national guardsman.
Monmouth County Republicans will choose their candidates at a March 9 convention. The deadline to submit petitions and file a letter of intent to run is this Saturday
Amoroso, 50, is serving his third term on the school board and was the top vote-getter when he ran for re-election in 2017.
Wooley, 29, served as chief of staff to Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Wall) and worked at Comcast before joining Bob Hugin’s U.S. Senate campaign as deputy director of strategic initiatives.
The district has tilted heavily to Democrat in recent years. The 11th has 14,411 more Democrats than Republicans. When it was drawn in 2011, the Democratic edge was 10,120.
Downey and Houghtaling unseated Republican assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in 2015 and State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) unseated three-term incumbent Jennifer Beck in 2017.
Republicans ran Ocean Township Deputy Mayor Rob Acerra and Red Bank Councilman Michel Whelan against Downey and Houghtaling in 2017. Acerra lost by 5,340 votes and Whelan by 6,027.