Warren County Republicans have awarded their organizational line in the 24th district to Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski (R-Independence) and Lafayette Board of Education President Josh Aikens, giving the two Assembly candidates a leg up in the two Warren County towns within their district.
For the district’s Senate seat, however, Warren Republicans will go without a candidate entirely. That’s because the lone 24th district Senate candidate, Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage), is choosing to align with his Assembly running mates rather than run on the organizational line.
According to Space, Warren GOP chairman Doug Steinhardt had offered the organizational line to Space, Sarnoski, and Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia (R-Franklin), who’s running on Space’s ticket. But since that would have meant spurning the third member of their team, Chester Township Mayor Mike Inganamort, Space and Fantasia decided to run off-the-line instead.
“We’re on a team together, and so we’re staying together,” Space said.
Sarnoski and Aikens filed with the “Warren County Regular Republican Organization” slogan, aligning them with legislative candidates in the neighboring 23rd district as well as County Commissioner Lori Ciesla. Space and his team, meanwhile, filed under the “Warren County Regular Republican Party” slogan.
On the ballot itself, that likely means that the official organizational line in Allamuchy and Independence, the two Warren towns in the 24th district, will be missing a Senate candidate; Space will be unopposed, but listed in the next column over.
Sarnoski, a county commissioner since 2011 and the GOP municipal chair in Independence, was always the favorite to get the line in his home county, which now has the chance to increase its legislative representation from two members to three.
But there ultimately aren’t all that many 24th district votes at stake in Warren County. Independence and Allamuchy have a combined population of 10,804, making up just 5% of the district.
In the 2021 Republican primary, the two towns cast a total of 890 votes; without a gubernatorial election on the ballot this year, turnout may be even lower. However, if the Assembly race is extremely close – and it could be – a landslide result in Warren County might mean the difference between a win and a loss for Sarnoski and Aikens.
Fantasia and Inganamort have the GOP organizational line in Morris County, which makes up around one-third of the district. But Sussex County, where a majority of the district’s residents live, doesn’t have a line at all, so a huge number of votes are very much up for grabs.
The four main Assembly candidates will meet on April 27 in a debate hosted by the New Jersey Globe and Save Jersey. A fifth candidate, Rob Kovic, is also running, though he has not made much of a dent in the race so far.