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Barry Wilkes. (Photo: Barry Wilkes)

Businessman Barry Wilkes entering GOP State Assembly race in 38th district

Former municipal chairman wants to take on Swain and Tully in key district for Republicans

By David Wildstein, November 21 2022 8:03 am

Former Glen Rock GOP Municipal Chairman Barry Wilkes, a businessman who built a chain of eleven family-owned delicatessens across Bergen and Passaic counties, is taking steps to seek the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 38th district next year.

Wilkes wants to take on two incumbents, Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield) as Republicans compete for control of the State Assembly in Gov. Phil Murphy’s second mid-term election.

While Glen Rock has increasingly become a solidly Democratic municipality – Barack Obama won 55% there in 2008 and Joe Biden took 66% twelve years – Wilkes ran a strong race for a borough council eat in 2020, losing by 542 votes.

More enticing for Republicans is that Wilkes ran 950 votes ahead Donald Trump and 845 votes ahead of Republican congressional candidate Frank Pallotta in Glen Rock.

In 2021, Swain received 2,853 votes in Glen Rock and Tully brought in 2,799.  Two GOP Assembly candidates, Alfonso Mastrofilipo (1,926) and Jerry Taylor (1,905) trailed.   Districtwide, Swain received 34,226 votes, followed by Tully (33,444), Mastrofilipo (30,777) and Taylor (30,597).

Under a new legislative redistricting map approved earlier this year, the 38th became marginally better for Republicans.  The GOP needs to win the Bergen County district if they want to take control of the legislature in 2023.

Wilkes grew up in Fair Lawn and moved to Glen Rock in 1984.  He took over the family business, Wilkes Delicatessen, which was started by his grandparents in Ridgewood in  the 1930s.  He helped grow the deli business into eleven different locations.  He also funded a wholesale distribution company that services food establishments across North Jersey.

In Glen Rock, Wilkes served as a planning board member for eleven years and served on the Republican county committee for over two decades.  He’s been involved in the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and Habitat for Humanity.

The Republican field in the 38th has already started to take shape.  Paramus Councilman Robert Kaiser, a former South Hackensack deputy police chief, has begin to line up support for the Senate nomination against Democratic incumbent Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus).

Other Republican who could emerge as possible 38th district candidates include: Rochelle Park Councilwoman Gail Artola and Paramus Councilman Ace Antonio; Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler, Lodi Councilman Joseph Leto; Maywood Councilwoman Danyel Cicarelli; and Cindy Quackenbush, who did not seek re-election this year after four terms on the Fair Lawn Board of Education.  Also on the list is Richard Garcia, a Saddle Brook resident and the CEO of the Newark Board of Education Employees Credit Union; he won 47% of the vote against Lagana in 2021

All paths to a Republican majority in the legislature next year is paved through the 38th, which Gov. Phil Murphy carried by a 52%-47% margin in 2021.

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