Hunterdon County Republicans have endorsed former Somerset County freeholder Mark Caliguire and 24-year-old Forest Locandro for State Assembly in the politically competitive 16th district.
They defeated former Montgomery mayor Christine Madrid and former Rocky Hill mayor Ed Zimmerman at last night’s Republican county convention and will have the Hunterdon organization line in the June primary.
Incumbent assemblymen Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) are seeking re-election.
Somerset makes up about 48% of the Republican primary vote in the 16th, with Hunterdon at 43%. Middlesex has about 6% of the Republican primary votes, with Mercer at just 3%.
The Middlesex County Republican screening committee voted last week to recommend Madrid and present Caliguire and Zimmerman to their March 16 convention.
Mercer County has scheduled their convention for March 15 and Somerset on March 25.
The district has 14,599 more Democrats than Republicans – up considerably from the 5,275 Democratic edge when the 16th was drawn in 2011. It is one of two in the State that elected a Republican senator and two Democratic assemblymen in 2017.
Locandro is the son of former Delaware Township mayor Roger Locandro. He works at his family-owned tree nursery and plumbing business.
A graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Economics, Locandro is seeking his master plumbers license and is a certified geothermal technician and green energy technician. He is also a volunteer firefighter.
Caliguire is making his third run for office in as many years.
He lost a State Assembly race in 2017, running 3,673 votes behind Freiman for the seat Jack Ciattarelli (R-Hillsborough) gave up running for governor. His lost his hometown, Montgomery, where he served as a councilman and mayor, by 438 votes.
Last year, Caliguire lost his bid for re-election to the Somerset County Board of Freeholders. In that race, he lost the 16th district portion of the county by 407 votes and lost Montgomery by 1,267.
Madrid, who served as director of the Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance at the state Department of Labor under Gov. Chris Christie, became mayor last August when Mark Conforti resigned to move to Florida.
She lost her bid for re-election to the township committee three months later by 1,262 votes.
Zimmerman was the first to enter the race. He served as a Rocky Hill councilman from 2004 to 2006 and as mayor from 2007 to 2014. He was the governor’s appointee to the state Council on Local Mandates.