The Monmouth County line proved too much for Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) to overcome. Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) and Holmdel School Board President Vicky Flynn will go on to the general election.
The contest in the 13th district was one of a handful of primaries that saw an incumbent seeking re-election off the party line.
Monmouth County Republicans dropped DiMaso after the two-term assemblywoman and former Holmdel mayor butted heads with county GOP Chairman Shaun Golden in Holmdel, DiMaso’s hometown.
The former Monmouth County freeholder has backed local slates against ones endorsed by Golden and the Republican County Committee, including one that defeated Flynn in a 2020 race for Holmdel Township Committee.
Golden also accused DiMaso of missing key votes and alleged ethics breaches related to robocalls that spoofed Democratic legislators’ phone numbers and tax breaks to a hospital where she sat on the board. The New Jersey Joint Legislative Committee on Ethics Standards dismissed the robocall complaint.
Despite the party fracas, the race for the Republican Assembly nod in the 13th district has been a relatively tame one, though DiMaso did attack Flynn over tax hikes the challenger told NJSpotlight were related to a ballot initiative approved by voters.
In April, Flynn touted a school district budget that she said reduced taxes by $249,575.
The intra-party drama drew some Republican legislators to DiMaso’s side, including State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) and Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville), though her onetime running mates have stuck together as the county-backed slate. She also hired a political consulting firm run by former Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore.
Other Republican lawmakers, including Assemblymen Ned Thomson (R-Wall) and Sean Kean (R-Wall) endorsed Flynn and her running mates.
The county organization’s endorsement comes with some obvious advantages. Flynn and Scharfenberger saw their names appear beneath those of State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli.
DiMaso’s column wasn’t empty. She bracketed with gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo and Thomas Scarano, who challenged Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley.