Monmouth County Republicans barred Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) from attending a party fundraiser on Wednesday because she bucked the GOP line in the Holmdel Township Committee primary.
DiMaso was told in advance that she had been disinvited from the event, but showed up anyway, several sources confirmed. The freshman assemblywoman was not allowed in and told to leave the Bar Anticipation in Lake Como.
The fundraiser was organized to benefit Sheriff Shaun Golden, the Monmouth County Republican chairman, as well as Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and County Clerk Christine Hanlon.
DiMaso, the New Jersey Globe has learned, was asked to stay out of the Holmdel primary where Golden was backing Mayor Eric Hinds for re-election and had tossed incumbent Mike Nikolis off the line to support former school board member Chiung-Yin Liu. Sources confirmed that DiMaso, the Holmdel Planning Board chair, was heavily involved in Nikolis’ campaign.
While election night returns showed Nikolis ahead, a count of provisional and vote-by-mail ballots put Liu ahead by nine votes, 666 to 657.
Two days after DiMaso was tossed from the Republican fundraiser, Nikolis declined to seek a recount despite the closeness of the race.
The relationship between Golden and DiMaso has deteriorated in recent months and the Holmdel primary was viewed as the apogee of their struggling affiliation.
In April, Golden put Freeholder Gerald Scharfenberger’s name first on the Assembly slate in the 13th district, even though incumbents usually get top billing. Scharfenberger ran 31 votes ahead of DiMaso.
DiMaso, a former Holmdel mayor and Monmouth County freeholder, won an Assembly seat in 2017 when Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown) retired and Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) moved up to the Senate.
The retirement of seven-term Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Middletown) led to Scharfenberger securing a spot on the Assembly ticket.
The 13th district is considered strongly Republican, even though the GOP voter registration edge is just 2,710. Donald Trump won the district with 57% in 2016; in 2017, 13th district voters backed Kim Guadagno for governor against Phil Murphy by a 58%-42% margin. Guadagno and Murphy both reside in the district.
Golden and DiMaso did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Golden was contacted by text message at 2:38 PM and DiMaso by phone at 2:48 PM.