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Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold)

Downey, Houghtaling re-elected

Incumbents defeat Woolley, Amoroso

By David Wildstein, November 05 2019 10:06 pm

Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling were re-elected Tuesday.

They defeated Republican challengers Michael Amoroso and Matthew Woolley.

Downey ran in first place, winning 22,482 votes. Houghtaling came in a close second with 22,415 ballots cast in his name.

Amoroso received 20,171, while Woolley finished last with 19,525.

The Democrats won 58% of the mail-in ballots counted by Tuesday night.

The 11th district was once a Republican stronghold, but the party’s power there has faded since Downey and Houghtaling narrowly won their first terms there in 2015.

That year, the Democrats each won by fewer than 500 votes. In 2017, they won by more than 5,000, and State Sen. Vin Gopal ousted Republican Sen. Jennifer Beck.

Still, Republicans came close enough to brush victory in 2015 despite there being 10,418 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the district.

While Democrats’ registration edge has grown larger in the years since, their number haven’t grown as quickly as they have elsewhere in the state. At the start of November, they led in registration by 14,179.

So, while they’d face an uphill battle, Woolley and Michael Amoroso could win two seats back for the GOP, but they faced some hurdles.

For one, the money dried up.

Though they went into the final month of the election with more cash on hand than Republican challengers in the 16th district, Woolley had $11,692.54 banked, while Amoroso had $3,730.85.

Combined, the Democrats had more than $115,000.

At the same time, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick redirected leadership funds to his own re-election race, leaving candidates like Woolley and Amoroso in the lurch as they vied to put a dent in Democrats’ Assembly majority.

The challengers were also relatively unknown in the political space. Woolley was a staffer for Bob Hugin’s senate bid. Amoroso is president of the Freehold Board of Education.

It was hardly a recruiting coup.

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