Just one incumbent legislator was defeated in Tuesday’s primary election as a series of contests throughout the state brought just a handful of surprises.
Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) lost his bid for a third term after party leaders accused him of plotting to switch parties and then denied him support for re-election.
Assemblyman Ryan Peters and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield bested Howarth, who attached himself to President Donald Trump unsuccessfully sought to rebrand himself as a MAGA conservative by a 2-1 margin.
Peters (5,215) and Stanfield (5,285) carried every town in the 8th district against Howarth, who received 2,673 votes. Jason Huf (1,943) finished a distant fourth.
In what is a highly competitive general election, Peters and Stanfield will face Democrats Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale. They easily defeated Johnny Bravo to capture the nomination.
Competitive Assembly races
Primaries in three other legislative districts set up a series of opportunities for Democratic and Republican pickups in the fall.
* District 16: Former Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire and former Montgomery Mayor Christine Madrid defeated Roger Forest Locandro in the Republican primary. They will face Democratic incumbents Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough).
* District 21: Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman defeated Jill LaZare for the chance to take on Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit.)
* District 25: Denville Councilman Brian Bergen will run with Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton). Bergen defeated special assistant Morris County Counsel John Barbarula and Aura Dunn, who was Rodney Frelinghuysen’s congressional district director. Bucco and Bergen will face Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger.
Too close to call
There are still no winners in races for Morris County Surrogate and Somerset County Sheriff where longtime incumbents are retiring.
With 100% of the machine votes counted, Bill Parenti has a 223 vote lead over Tim Pino for the GOP nomination for Somerset County sheriff.
Heather Darling clings to a narrow 542 vote-lead against Michael Patrick Carroll in the surrogate race.
* In Toms River, four-term Councilman Mo Hill defeated George Gilmore’s hand-picked candidate for mayor, former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.
* East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith, 78, first elected in 1987 and the longest-serving mayor in Hudson County, was defeated in the Democratic primary by Dana Grilo, his first opponent in sixteen years.
* Running on the Somerset County GOP line, Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes lost the Republican primary to Council President Matt Moench by a wide margin.
* State Sen. Nicholas Scutari may have lost his bid for re-election as the Linden Democratic municipal chairman, but looks to have enough votes to get another term as Union County Democratic Chairman. State Sen. Bob Smith maintained control of the Piscataway Democrats, and State Sen. Joe Cryan will have 86 of 100 votes, more or less, in Union Townsip.
* After a nasty campaign, Morris County Freeholders Douglas Cabana, Tom Mastrangelo and Kathy DeFilippo easily win their primary.
* Union County Surrogate James LaCorte won in landslide against perennial candidate Lisa McCormick.