A former Bernardsville councilman who stood down from a 2021 State Assembly bid will take on State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) in the 21st district.
Matthew Marino won the Morris County Democratic organization line at their convention on Saturday. Previous conventions and screening committees in Somerset, Middlesex, and Union counties adjourned without a Senate candidate against Bramnick.
Two years ago, Marino won the Somerset County Democratic convention for an Assembly seat in the 25th district but withdrew after Morris County Democrats picked Mountain Lakes Deputy Mayor Lauren Barnett and former Wharton Councilwoman Patricia Veres to take on Republican incumbents Brian Bergen (R-Denville) and Aura Dunn (R-Mendham). Morris made up 96% of the district.
Legislative redistricting shifted Marino’s hometown, Bernardsville, from the 25th to the 21st.
This will be the 46-year-old Marino’s fifth bid for public office.
He lost a 2016 Bernardsville Borough Council race by 310 votes; his running mate, Christine Zamarra lost by 26 votes. His 2018 council bid was closer: Bernardsville elected one Democrat and one Republican, and Marino finished fourth, just votes behind his victorious running mate, Jeffrey Hammond.
Following the resignation of Councilman Thomas O’Dea in June 2021, Marino was appointed to fill the vacant seat the following month. He sought O’Dea’s unexpired term in the November general election, but lost to Republican Diane Greenfield by 335 votes, 55%-45%. Republicans also flipped a council seat – Hammond lost re-election — in a year where GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli carried Bernardsville by thirteen percentage points and 416 votes.
His four-month stint as a councilman ended once Greenfield was certified as the winner.
It will be up to the other three counties to add Marino to their line since he is so far unopposed.
Marino worked as an English teacher at Gill St. Bernards School before taking an administrative post at New Jersey City University in 2021. He’s now a regulatory and compliance manager at Logicom USA, a communications technology company.
He will join two Democratic Assembly candidates who won organization lines in all four counties: Bernards Democratic Municipal Chair Elizabeth Graner, who is making her second bid against Republicans Nancy Munoz (R-Somerset) and Michele Matsikoudis (R-New Providence; and Chris Weber, a Springfield councilman.
Bramnick won an open State Senate seat by seven points in 2021 even though Gov.Phil Murphy won the district by two points. A former Assembly minority leader, Bramnick has demontrated an ability to win swing voters in 2017, 2019 and 2021.