Assemblymen Robert Karabinchak (D-Edison) and Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick) won a landslide victory over Edison Councilman Joseph Coyle to win the Middlesex County Democratic organization line in the 18th district.
Karabinchak received 268 votes and Stanley won 229. Coyle’s vote total was 117. There were 13 provisional ballots cast.
The race is a big setback for Edison Democratic Municipal Chairman Mahesh Bhagia, who had backed Coyle.
This is Stanley’s second lopsided win over Coyle this year.
Nancy Pinkin had resigned from the Assembly in January to become the new Middlesex County Clerk and Stanley faced off against Coyle in a special election convention to fill the remaining year of her term.
Stanley beat Coyle by a wide margin, 189 to 136, 58%-42%.
The 54-year-old Stanley was re-elected to his East Brunswick council seat by 5,137 votes in 2020 against Republican Suzanne Blum. He served as council president until this year.
East Brunswick Democrats picked Dinesh “Danny” Behal to replace Stanley. The seat will be up for grabs in a November 2021 special election to fill the remainder of his term.
Stanley had expected him to face a different Edison councilman, Ajay Patil. But a scandal that went public in November allegedly implicating him in a conspiracy involving a racist campaign flyer in a 2017 school board election essentially ended his hopes to win an Assembly race.
Coyle, who had been viewed as a potential mayoral candidate this year, entered the race after being passed over for council president and then not retaining his council vice president post.
He had the backing of Bhagia, who is also a candidate for mayor.
Patil has said that Bhagia and Wilentz partner Satish Poondi were the masterminds behind the racist flyers, although prosecutors have been unable to solve the cold case – and a nearly identical case in Hoboken that involved the same tactic in the same week.
The decision to back Coyle put Bhagia in a precarious position of backing a white candidate for Assembly despite calls by the South Asian community for representation in the legislature.
The 64-year-old Karabinchak is seeking his fourth term in the Assembly. The former Edison councilman won a 2016 special election convention after Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) moved up to the Senate.
Diegnan was unopposed at tonight’s convention for re-election to his State Senate seat
In addition to East Brunswick and Edison, the district includes Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield and South River – all Middlesex municipalities.