The three incumbent Republican legislators from the 23rd district – State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Oxford) and Assemblymen John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) and Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) — announced on Tuesday night that they would seek re-election in 2021.
The heavily-Republican district includes parts of Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties.
“I am proud to be running with two of the most conservative members of the State Assembly,” said Doherty. “My running mates are men of character and dependability that the folks in Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties can trust to put them first.”
Doherty won a special election for State Senate in 2009, defeating incumbent Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) in the Republican primary for the seat left vacant earlier in the year when Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) resigned to take his seat in Congress.
Karrow had won a special election convention to replace Lance by 52 votes, 195 to 143. Doherty won the primary by 997 votes, 52.4% to 47.6%.
He had served as a Warren County Freeholder from 2001 to 2004 – he unseated Democratic incumbent Ann Stone by 11 points — and as an assemblyman from 2002 to 2009.
DiMaio has held public office since 1980, when at age 25 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 won a special election convention for Warren County Freeholder in 2000.
In 2009, DiMaio won a special election convention to take Karrow’s Assembly seat by a razor-thin 12-vote margin against two Hunterdon freeholders, Erik Peterson and Matt Holt.
DiMaio is now the Assembly Minority Co-Conference Leader.
“We are three small business owners and understand the challenges of working men and women of New Jersey who carry on the legacy of innovation and determination that has made New Jersey a perennial leader in technology,” said DiMaio. ““If the good people of the 23rd legislative district re-elect us, we will continue to be the loudest and steadfast advocates for small business owners and their employees especially when our Governor has made it all but impossible for small business owners to survive.”
Peterson got to the Assembly anyway, winning a Republican primary to fill the seat Doherty gave up to seek the Senate seat. He defeated Edward J. Smith, an aide to Doherty, by 52 votes.
“I am proud to be part of a team that understands that New Jersey’s and our Country’s greatest strength is middle class families,” said Assemblyman Peterson. “Senator Doherty and Assemblyman DiMaio are fierce defenders of middle-class families and have proven their resolve to stand up to the political elite that want to sell them out. To me there is no higher calling.”