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Goutam Jois

Goutam Jois drops Assembly bid

LaZare contending for Somerset line against Mandelblatt, Gunderman

By David Wildstein, March 21 2019 4:22 pm

As Somerset County Democrats prepare for their convention tonight, the contest for State Assembly in the 21st district is now down to three candidates.

Goutam Jois told the New Jersey Globe that he has withdrawn from the race to pick challengers against incumbents Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit).

That leaves Stacey Gunderman, Jill LaZare and Lisa Mandelblatt seeking the Somerset organization line.

Gunderman and Mandelblatt have already won the line in Union County, where about 75% of the Democratic primary voters live.  They also have the endorsement of Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill).

Somerset County Democratic chair Peg Schaffer has the option of declaring an open primary for Assembly, which could negate the need for a vote tonight.   She has not yet announced her plans.

Bernards Township, the largest town in the Somerset portion of the 21st, has not declared a preference.

“We’ve reviewed all the resumes at least three times and the committee will vote as they see fit,” says Bernards Democratic municipal chair Nancy D’Andrea, who said she is not telling her county committee how to vote.

A win by LaZare could put Mandelblatt in the tough spot of having different running mates in different counties.

Democrats believe they have a shot at electing a Democrat to the Assembly in this district for the first time since 1989.

In 2017, Democrat Lacey Cotter Rzeszowski came within 1,554 votes of defeating Munoz.

Somerset Democrats are expected to back retired Franklin Township police lieutenant Darren Russo for sheriff in a contested convention vote.  Russo won 49% against Frank Provenzano in 2016.

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