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The Garden State Equality Action Fund, which advocates on LGBTQ issues, has endorsed Democratic challengers in New Jersey’s most competitive State Assembly races this year, but in some cases endorsed three candidates for two seats.
Three Republicans have won the backing of the state’s premier LGBTQ group that led the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey: incumbents Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) and Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), and challenger Jennifer Williams, the Trenton Republican Municipal Chair.
“While we are concerned that she abstained from voting on the LGBTQ curriculum legislation, Assemblywoman DiMaso has been supportive of some of the most important LGBTQ related bills that have passed through the Assembly during her time,” the endorsement said.
Schepisi and Williams were endorsed along with the two Democratic candidates in their districts.
Garden State Equality is backing challengers John Birkner, Jr. and Gerald Falotico against Schepisi and her running mate, Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) in the 39th district.
“We wished she had not abstained on the LGBTQ curriculum legislation, however, Assemblywoman Schepisi has been an advocate on LGBTQ issues, including sponsoring the ‘Babs Siperstein Law’ and we support her reelection to the Assembly,” the group said.
Williams, a conservative Republican, is seeking to become New Jersey’s first openly transgender legislator. Garden State Equality is also backing both of her opponents, incumbents Verlina Jackson-Reynolds (D-Trenton) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell).
In the closely watched races, Garden State Equality has endorsed Democrats Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale in the 8th district against incumbent Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) and his running mate, former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield.
In District 21, endorsements went to challengers Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman in the race to unseat Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Minority Whip Nancy Munoz (R-Summit).
Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger won endorsements in the 25th district against Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) and his running mate, Denville Councilman Brian Bergen.
Garden State Equality has endorsed State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) and Assemblyman Bruce Land (D-Vineland) in the 1st district, but did not endorse incumbent Matthew Milam (D-Vineland) or any of the challengers for the second Assembly seat.
Endorsements went to Democratic incumbents Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold) in the 11th and Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) in the 16th.
In addition to DiMaso in the 13th district, the organization has endorsed Democrat Allison Friedman for the seat being vacated by retiring Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Middletown).
The LGBTQ advocacy group also took a pass on Democratic incumbents Joe Egan (D-New Brunswick) and Gary Schaer (D-Passaic).
In districts where Republicans are heavily favored, Garden State Equality is backing Democrats Wayne Lewis in the 9th, Eileen Della Volle in the 10th, Malini Guha in the 12th, Deana Lykins in the 24th, and Christine Clarke and Laura Fortgang in the 26th.
“Standing up for equality is always right, and because of their proven record and commitment to New Jersey’s LGBTQ community, each of these candidates have decisively earned Garden State Equality’s endorsement,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “From now through election day, Garden State Equality will be educating voters and our 150,000 members about what’s at stake in this election—and who’s on their side. We are proud to support this slate of candidates, and we look forward to building a more equal New Jersey with them in office.”