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Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Roselle). Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Hanna will challenge Quijano, Holley in 21st

’17 Senate candidate will run again

By David Wildstein, March 23 2019 10:16 am

Ashraf Hanna, who lost a bid for State Senate against Democrat Joe Cryan (D-Union) in 2017, will run for State Assembly this year in the 20th district.

So far, Hanna is the only Republican to seek party support for a challenge to incumbents Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth) and Jamel Holley (D-Roselle).

Hanna received 16% of the vote in his bid for the open seat of State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) in 2017.  Lesniak left the legislature after 40 years to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

There are 59,270 more Democrats than Republicans in the 20th, one of a handful of districts statewide that have never elected a Republican.  Hillary Clinton won 79% of the vote in the 21st.

The district was once anchored by Elizabeth, Linden and Rahway, but the 2001 map created a new Linden-Rahway based district.

In the 1991 GOP landslide following a backlash over Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase, Republican Richard Hunt came within 887 votes of defeating Elizabeth mayor Thomas Dunn for an Assembly seat, but Lesniak was re-elected by a 4,148-vote margin that year.

The 20th has included Union Township since 2001.  Union went from solidly Republican to becoming one of the most politically competitive large municipalities in the state, but changing demographics and the political leadership of Cryan, the longtime Democratic municipal chairman, has converted the town into a blue stronghold.

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