A week after her party endorsed Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia (R-Franklin) for the Assembly, Morris County GOP chairwoman Laura Marie Ali today decried what she called “lewd” and “sexually charged” attacks from Fantasia’s Republican primary opponents.
In an Instagram post from February 27, Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski (R-Independence) attacked Fantasia, whom he will face in the June Assembly primary, as “Gas Tax Dawn” and said she would “bend over” for higher taxes; the post was liked by his 24th district running mate, Lafayette Board of Education President Josh Aikens.
“The Republican caucus is supposed to stand against taxes and protect your wallets from the sticky fingers of big daddy government,” Sarnoski wrote. “Not only is Dawn more than happy to bend over to the special interests and let them do it, she’s going to tell you to your face that you should too.”
Ali said in a statement released today that the rhetoric from Sarnoski was “despicable.”
“No man running for office would ever be subject to this kind of lewd, sexual innuendo, but for some reason Commissioner Sarnoski thinks it’s okay to apply them to Dawn Fantasia,” Ali said. “I am sorry, this is no coincidence. This sexually-charged language is intentional and I won’t stand by and let Dawn be victimized in that way.”
But in an email to the New Jersey Globe, Sussex County Republican vice chairwoman Kelly Ann Hart pushed back on Ali’s assertions, saying that sexual innuendos could potentially be found everywhere and noting Space’s own problematic comments on women in politics.
“Dawn Fantasia is currently running on a ticket with a candidate who has called women candidates ‘bitches and whores,’” Hart said. “In her last election in 2021, her running mate likewise referred to a woman school board member as a ‘bitch.’ She has said nothing about either of these.”
At their March 4 convention, Morris Republicans endorsed Fantasia and her running mates, Chester Township Mayor Mike Inganamort and Assemblyman/Senate candidate Parker Space (R-Wantage), by a convincing margin.
But most of the 24th district is in Sussex County, which doesn’t award a county organizational line, and Aikens and Sarnoski very much have a path to victory. The two candidates have run an aggressive campaign arguing that they are the true conservative choices for the district, in contrast to the “woke” “so-called Republicans” Fantasia and Inganamort.
This story was updated at 5:00 p.m. with comment from Kelly Ann Hart.