Somerset County Republicans endorsed former freeholder Todd Caliguire and former Montgomery mayor Christine Madrid for State Assembly in the 16th district.
Incumbents Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) are among the top targets of state Republicans looing to pickup Assembly seats in Gov. Phil Murphy’s midterm election.
In a four-way race for the organization line, Caliguire finished first with 44 votes, followed by Madrid with 43. Forest Locandro received 7 votes, and former Rocky Hill mayor Ed Zimmerman failed to win any support for the GOP nomination.
“I’m very happy with our results tonight and believe we put the very best team forward to win in a Murphy mid-term,” said Somerset County GOP chairman Al Gaburo.
Caliguire and Madrid will run together in Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex counties. In Hunterdon, Caliguire will run with Locandro.
Somerset makes up about 48% of the Republican primary vote in the 16th, with Hunterdon at 43%. Middlesex has about 6% of the Republican primary votes, with Mercer at just 3%.
Caliguire is making his third run for office in as many years.
He lost a State Assembly race in 2017, running 3,673 votes behind Freiman for the seat Jack Ciattarelli (R-Hillsborough) gave up running for governor. His lost his hometown, Montgomery, where he served as a councilman and mayor, by 438 votes.
Last year, Caliguire lost his bid for re-election to the Somerset County Board of Freeholders. In that race, he lost the 16th district portion of the county by 407 votes and lost Montgomery by 1,267.
Madrid, who served as director of the Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance at the state Department of Labor under Gov. Chris Christie, became mayor last August when Mark Conforti resigned to move to Florida.
She lost her bid for re-election to the township committee three months later by 1,262 votes.
Zimmerman was the first to enter the race. He served as a Rocky Hill councilman from 2004 to 2006 and as mayor from 2007 to 2014. He was the governor’s appointee to the state Council on Local Mandates.
Locandro, 24, is the son of former Delaware Township mayor Roger Locandro. He works at his family-owned tree farm and as a volunteer firefighter.
The 16th is one of two in the State that elected a Republican senator and two Democratic assemblymen in 2017.
The district has 14,599 more Democrats than Republicans – up considerably from the 5,275 Democratic edge when the 16th was drawn in 2011.
Zwicker unseated assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-Readington) by just 78 votes in 2015. He was the first Democratic assemblyman from that district since James Bowers (D-Somerville) lost his bid for a third term to Fred Pope (R-Bridgewater) in 1934.