Home>Governor>GOP picks up one Senate seat, two Assembly seats in mid-term elections
Michael Testa, Jr. State Senate
Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa. Photo by Nikita Biryukov.

GOP picks up one Senate seat, two Assembly seats in mid-term elections

Two other Assembly races still undecided; Bramnick, Munoz, Bucco, Peters hold their seats

By David Wildstein, November 05 2019 11:07 pm

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New Jersey Republicans picked up one Senate seat and two Assembly seats in Gov. Phil Murphy’s mid-term election, holding off a Democratic push to pick up eight additional seats in four Republican districts.

Two other Assembly seats are still in play.

In the 2nd district, Democratic incumbents Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) and John Armato (D-Buena Vista) narrowly lead their GOP opponents, Atlantic County Freeholder John Risley and former Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther.

Risley and Guenther won the machine count, but Mazzeo and Armato have enough of a lead among vote-by-mail ballots to remain in ahead.

Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa, Jr. won the 1st district State Senate seat, defeating incumbent Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) in special election to fill the seat Jeff Van Drew gave up to serve in Congress.  Testa leads by 3,527 votes, 53.5%-46.5%.

Republicans picked up the two Assembly seats in the 1st, with Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen and Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan ousting incumbents Bruce Land (D-Vineland) and Matthew Milam (D-Vineland).

Simonsen (26,544) was the top vote-getter, followed by McClellan (25,521).  Land trails McClellan by 2,423 votes and Milam is 543 votes behind his running mate.

The vote returns the Senate to 25-15, where it was last year before State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) switched parties.

The Assembly will go to 52-28 – and could be 50-30.

Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Minority Whip Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) won re-election, defeating Democrats Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.

Democrats spent heavily to unseat Bramnick and Munoz.  The Operating Engineers Local 825 spent over $400,000 to save Bramnick, a key ally in passing an increase in the gasoline tax.

Bramnick received 28,787 votes and Munoz won 28,079.  Mandelblatt finished 2,672 votes behind Munoz; Gunderman was last, coming in 3,922 votes behind Bramnick.

Republicans also held seats in the 8th and 25th districts.

Republican Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) was re-elected to a second term in the Assembly.  His running mate, former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield was elected to an open Assembly seat.

They defeated Democrats Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale.

Stanfield, who defeated incumbent Joe Howarth in the Republican primary, is the top vote-getter with 10,036, followed by Peters with 9,919.  LaPlaca is at 9,172 and Natale at 8,890.

State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton) was re-elected to an Assembly seat in the 25th district, setting up a special election convention in January to elect a replacement.

Bucco won a special election convention to replace his late father, Anthony R. Bucco, who died in September.

Republican Brian Bergen, a Denville councilman, won the open seat of retiring Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township).  Bucco and Bergen defeated Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger.

Bucco ran first with 26,848 votes, followed by Bergen with 25,552.  Bhimani finished third with 23,505 and Draeger took in 22,850.

In Bergen County, Republican incumbents Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) and Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) were re-elected to the 39th district seats against Westwood Mayor John Birkner, Jr. and Emerson Councilman Gerald Falotico.

Schepisi won by 6,136 votes in a race that wasn’t even close.  Auth trailed his running mate by 1,631.

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