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Assemblyman John DiMaio. Photo: (Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

DiMaio elected Assembly minority leader

By David Wildstein, November 04 2021 11:55 am

John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) will be the new minority leader of the New Jersey State Assembly after defeating Nancy Muñoz (R-Summit) in a legislative leadership election in Trenton on Thursday.

DiMaio won 19 to 15.

Ned Thomson (R-Wall) will be the Republican Conference Leader and Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City), was picked for minority whip.

Muñoz appeared to secure enough votes to win the post several weeks ago after two of her opponents, Thomson and DiMaio agreed to run on a slate with her. DiMaio was slotted for conference leader and Thomson was to be deputy minority leader. McClellan was picked for minority whip on the Muñoz team.

But Muñoz’s campaign began to unravel days later when conservative activists began objecting to a pro-choice Republican with positions on guns and vaccinations that are inconsistent with the GOP caucus to become their leader.

As a result, Muñoz was unable to secure public endorsements from Thomson and DiMaio supporters who had been expected to join the deal.

Another candidate, Brian Bergen (R-Denville), dropped his bid for minority leader last night.

Assembly Republicans picked up at least four seats – with up to four more seats still up for grabs – in Tuesday’s election.

New Republican lawmakers elected on Tuesday – Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City), Claire Swift (R-Margate), Bethanne McCarthy-Patrick (R-Salem) and Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich) – participated in the vote.

Two GOP candidates from the Monmouth-based 11th district, Marilyn Piperno and Kimberly Eulner, also took part in the vote.

DiMaio first went to the State Assembly in 2009, winning a special election by 12 votes against his current running mate, Erik Peterson (R-Franklin), after Leonard Lance had been elected to Congress and Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) gave up her Assembly seat to move to the Senate.

Peterson, who went to the Assembly after Michael Doherty (R-Oxford) defeated Karrow in the Republican primary, nominated DiMaio for the post.

The 65-year-old DiMaio has held public office since 1979, when at age 24 he won election to the Hackettstown Town Council as a Democrat. He was elected mayor in 1991 and switched parties to run for re-election in 1995. He was elected to the Warren County Board of Freeholders in 2000.

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