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Gloucester County Commissioner Nick DeSilvio at a fundraiser for Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer. (Photo: Richard W. Reck.)

DeSilvio is likely GOP State Senate candidate for Madden seat in competitive district

Madden is on retirement watch, with Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer a potential candidate to replace him

By David Wildstein, February 25 2023 2:52 pm

Nick DeSilvio, a Gloucester County Commissioner and U.S. Navy veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, has emerged as the leading Republican candidate for State Senate in the 4th district, which became more Republican after legislative redistricting.

The fight for the competitive State Senate seat could be a contest for an open seat, with increasing speculation that State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington Township) will not seek re-election to a sixth term this year.

One possible Democratic candidate is David Mayer, the four-term mayor of Gloucester Township and a former assemblyman from the fourth district.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township), a former TV consumer reporter for a Philadelphia network affiliate and an ex-mayor of Washington Township, is expected to seek re-election to a tenth term.  But it’s not clear if six-term Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township) will run again.

Michael Clark, a 24-year-old businessman and athletic director of the Solid Rock Christian School in Berlin, is viewed as the likely Republican organization candidate for a State Assembly seat.  He and his family sing in the Clark Family Band, which travels across the U.S. to sing in churches.  He also appeared in the reality TV show, Bringing Up Bates.

Expected to run with DeSilvio and Clark is Denise Gonzalez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and also a member of IBEW Local 351.  She ran against Moriarty and Mosquera in 2021 and lost by roughly 4,000 votes.

Under the old map, Gov. Phil Murphy carried the 4th district two years ago by two percentage points, but the towns in the new map gave GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli a five-point win.

An unusually close eight-point margin re-elected Madden in 2021 against Republican Steve Pakradooni, Jr.

The new map removed Democratic strongholds like Lindenwold and added one of the few Republican towns in Camden County, Waterford.

Under these new lines, Democratic Senate candidates in 2021 combined for 50.6% of the vote to 49.4% for Republicans – a margin of just about a thousand votes.  That came despite the state GOP offering no help to Pakradooni.

DeSilvio, 40, is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 351.  He spent nine years as a Naval Nuclear Operator and served spent six years as a member of the Franklin Township school board.  He became involved in local government as an advocate for his daughter, a special needs child.

He ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner in 2020, losing by 1,944 votes – about one-half of one percent.  DeDilvio was the top vote-getter in his 2021 bid for county commissioner, defeating longtime incumbent Robert Damminger by 3,296 votes.

The 56-year-old Mayer was the district director for Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) from 1990 to 1995 and served as a Gloucester Township councilman from 2002 to 2003.

In 2003, Mayer flipped a State Assembly seat, ousting incumbent Stephen Altamuro (R-Washington Township) by 3,329 votes.  Altamuro had won a special election convention in June 2003 after George Geist (R-Gloucester Township) resigned to take his seat in the State Senate.  He was re-elected in 2005 but did not run again in 2007.

Madden, 68, had less than $80,000 in the bank at the end of last year after raising less than $7,000 in 2022.  He stepped down last year as Gloucester County Democratic Chairman, and has been eyeing retirement for six years.

When Madden flipped the seat in 2003, ousting Geist by 63 votes, the race was the most expensive legislative campaign in New Jersey history at the time.  With Norcross’ help, Madden shattered spending records and spent about $4.4 million and aired a prime-time Philadelphia network TV ad during the World Series.  Geist spent roughly $1.9 million.

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