A veteran Republican lawmaker will fight to keep her Assembly seat after the Ocean County GOP screening committee voted to support another candidate in a vote earlier this week.
Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove (R-Long Beach), who has served in the legislature since 2009, found herself without party support when the panel recommended Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre to run for the 9th district seat with another incumbent, Brian Rumpf (R-Little Egg Harbor).
But Gove isn’t planning to back down.
“I’m going to convention,” she told the New Jersey Globe. “I’ve been planning to go to the convention since January. I was planning on it no matter what.”
Gove’s re-election has been in jeopardy since last summer when the candidate she endorsed for Republican county chairman, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, was beaten by George Gilmore.
“I believe I’ve been targeted by the chairman,” she said. “I’m going to fight.”
There were also questions about Rumpf’s ability to win the screening committee vote for a 12th term. He had also opposed the return of Gilmore, who was county chairman from 1996 to 2019.
Myhre is a longtime Gilmore ally, as were other candidates who appeared before the screening committee: former Barnegat Mayor John Novak and Berkeley Councilman James Byrnes.
Novak also plans to compete at the March 8 nominating convention, along with Lacey Mayor Timothy McDonald, Lacey Township Committeeman Mark Dykoff, and Valerie Smith, the head of the Ocean Academy Charter School in Lakewood.
“I feel I’m the most qualified candidate,” said Gove, a retired public school teacher who served as mayor and three-term township committeewoman. “I’m experienced. I enjoy helping people.”
She also noted her popularity in the district. In 2021, she received 60,798 votes – the second-highest total in the state, just behind Rumpf, and a 2-1 margin over Democrats Alexis Jackson and Kristen Henninger-Holland.
Gove pointed to her role as the only woman in the Ocean County Assembly delegation for the entirety of her time in the legislature. She is just the sixth Ocean County woman to serve in the Assembly since women gained the right to vote 103 years ago.
“I am fighting for women to stay in government,” she said
In the next-door 10th district, the Republican screening committee backed Toms River school board member Ashley Lamb and former Brick Councilwoman Ruthanne Scaturro to run for Assembly.
Six-term Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River) will seek to overturn the screening committee recommendation that he does not continue his service in Trenton at the convention.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra is also seeking an Assembly seat. One of the incumbents, John Catalano, is leaving the legislature after four years to run for higher office: mayor of Brick, the 13th largest municipality in the state.
Last night, McGuckin and Kanitra secured the organization line in Monmouth County, which makes up about 10% of the district.
Gove declined to rule out taking her fight directly to Republican primary voters if she loses the convention.
“I may, but I am a firm believer in going one day at a time,” she said.