New Providence Councilwoman Michele Matsikoudis is getting a boost the day before the Union County Republican convention with an endorsement from the Women for a Stronger New Jersey, a super PAC that as promised to raise money for her State Assembly campaign in the increasingly competitive 21st district.
The group is also backing Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz (R-Summit) for re-election to an 8th term representing the Union-Somerset-Morris district.
Six Republicans are seeking the open seat of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), who is running for the State Senate.
In addition to Matsikoudis, Summit Republican Municipal Chairman Steve Spurr, Township Committeewoman Mary O’Connor; Mountainside Councilman Rene Dierkes; Kenilworth Councilman Fred Pugliese, and Carmen Bucco, who won 2% of the vote as an independent candidate for Kenilworth Borough Council in 2020, are seeking the 21st district seat.
“We’ve spoken with all six of the candidates vying for the nomination to the open seat and every one of them is committed to their community, has a strong grasp of the issues facing the state, and is driven to find solutions,” said Kathy Hugin, Laura Overdeck and Candy Straight, the founding board members of the PAC, in a statement released on Friday. “While we would be proud to support any one of these well-qualified candidates should they receive the nomination, Michele is the strongest and most viable candidate in our opinion. We believe a Bramnick, Muñoz & Matsikoudis team will make the most compelling case to voters in the fall.”
It will likely take at least two ballots to come up with a winner.
Somerset County Republicans held off on endorsing a candidate at their convention in February and are waiting to see what Union does. Morris Republicans have their convention later this month.
“Republican women are underrepresented at every level of government in NJ. There are just seven Republican women serving in the Assembly and only five running for re-election in 2021, said Hugin, Overdeck and Straight. “We formed WSNJ to grow the number of Republican women serving in elected office.”
In a hotly-contested 2019 New Providence Republican primary, Matsikoudis was the top vote-getter. Councilman Robert Muñoz, who was dropped from the organization line in his bid for re-election, easily defeated businessman John Everitt.
While Matsikoudis ran with the backing of the local GOP organization, she and Muñoz were running mates.