Summit Republican Municipal Chairman Steve Spurr and New Providence Councilwoman Michele Matsikoudis and will face off on a second ballot for an open State Assembly seat in the 21st district.
Spurr led Matsikoudis by 3 votes, 82-79, a 44%-42% margin, in a six-candidate race.
Four other candidates were eliminated on the first ballot
Mary O’Connor, a three-term Cranford township committeewoman, finished third with 42 votes (22%), and Mountainside Councilman received 22 votes (12%).
Kenilworth Councilman and former mayor Fred Pugliese came in fifth with 11 votes (6%), followed by Carmen Bucco, a Kenilworth businessman, with 5 votes (3%).
The 34-year-old Spurr said his age as an advantage for Republicans.
“It’s time for young families like mine to speak up and to step up, Spurr said. “Having an energetic young voice right alongside Assemblyman Bramnick and Assemblywoman Munoz will lift this ticket to victory and help candidates up and down ticket authentically connect with young families that are leading the very real change in demographics across suburban New Jersey.”
Matsikoudis touted her experience running local campaigns.
“Politically, my success was not the product of where I lived but the work I did. Like all of district 21, our towns are becoming more competitive,” Matsikoudis said. “Small successes each day lead to victories.”
“I will not fail in this campaign and I will not falter as your advocate,” she said.
Republicans also picked Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) to run for State Senate and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) to seek re-election to the State Assembly.
Bramnick, the minority leader of the New Jersey State Assembly, is seeking the open seat of Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), who is not seeking re-election.
“Let me make it clear: the people on the Internet who are the loudest are not necessarily representative of District 21,” Bramnick said. “Most people are people of common sense, and they understand that we’re doing the best we can in Trenton.”
Somerset County Republicans put off their endorsement of 21st district candidates until after Union County voiced their preference.
Democrats in Union County will pick their candidates at a screening committee this afternoon.
Somerset County Democrats endorsed Bernards Township Democratic Municipal Chair Elizabeth Graner and attorney Scott Salmon.
The two are competing for the Demcoratic line, along with Mountainside Democratic Municipal Chair Anjali Mehrotra and Union County Finance Director Bibi Taylor.
Gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli won the Union County Republican organization line without opposition.
Ciattarelli called Gov. Phil Murphy the worst governors in modern New Jersey history.
“I’m off the opinion that he’s worse that (Jim) Florio, (James) McGreevey and (Jon) Corzine combined,” Ciattarelli said, blaming Murphy for shutting down businesses, closing schools and for the deaths at nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
He also promised to help Republicans pick up seats in the legislature.
“One thing I take very seriously at the head of the ticket is the responsibility at the head of the ticket for generating the kind of positive energy and momentum that helps everybody down,” Ciattarelli said.
Nominating Ciattarelli, former Garwood Councilman Joseph Sarno said that Ciattarelli would do a better job leading New Jersey than Murphy.
We don’t make the hard decisions here and it’s because of the governor on top. It’s time to change that,” Sarno said. “We have somebody who can fix this.
Union County Republicans have not yet secured candidates for three Union County Commissioner seats and voted to allow the party executive board to choose them before the April filing deadline.
The GOP did not vote on candidates in the 20th district but said that Charles Donnelly will run for Senate and David Fitzpatrick and Ashraf Hannan.
Roselle Park Councilman Joseph DeIorio will replace former Westfield Councilman Jim Foerst as the Republican State Committeeman from Union County. The party supported Republican State Committeewoman Dorothy Berger for re-election.
Kean praised the long-standing tradition of an open county convention launched his career as a State Assembly candidate in 2001.
“People who participate in this process are the bedrock of this democracy,” Kean said. “It’s an honor and privilege to serve in the state legislature.”