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Josh Welle. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Welle mulls Assembly bid

Ex-congressional candidate might seek Handlin seat

By David Wildstein, December 03 2018 5:49 pm

Former Democratic congressional candidate Josh Welle says he is considering a bid for State Assembly in the 13th district next year and plans to decide by mid-January.

“It’s something I’m taking a look at,” Welle told the New Jersey Globe.  “I’m going to take the next few weeks to see if that makes sense and see if it’s the best way for me to serve.”

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Middletown) announced in October that she would not seek re-election to the seat she has held since 2006.

An Annapolis graduate and retired U.S. Navy officer, Welle won 43% of the vote last month against nineteen-term Republican congressman Christopher Smith. He raised over $1.6 million in his first bid for public office.

“This is a period to assess the success we had in the 4th district,” said Welle, a Rumson resident. “I’m committed to Central Jersey.”

The 13th has 2,010 more Democrats than Republicans.

The 4th congressional district and the 13th legislative district have just a small amount of overlap: Fair Haven, Holmdel, Rumson and part of Middletown.

Smith beat Welle by 3,353 votes, 56%-44%, in the overlapping towns.

The front runner for the Republican nomination is Gerald Scharfenberger, a Monmouth County freeholder and former Middletown mayor.  Scharfenberger told the New Jersey Globe last month that he would decide sooner rather than later.

Welle would not be the first candidate to parlay a congressional campaign into a seat in the New Jersey Legislature.

Bill Dowd, a former Nixon White House aide, challenged Rep. Jim Howard (D-Spring Lake Heights) in 1970 and 1972, and then won an Assembly seat in 1977.

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