Freehold Township Board of Education president Michael Amoroso and former Hugin for Senate staffer Matthew Woolley will run unopposed at Saturday’s Monmouth County Republican nominating convention for the chance to challenge two-term incumbents Joann Downey (D-Freehold) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) for State Assembly in the 11th district.
Pearl Lee, who won 41% of the vote in her bid to become mayor of Red Bank last year, has withdrawn from the race.
With the organization line, Amoroso and Woolley became the heavy favorites to win the June Republican primary.
While candidates have until April 1 to file, so far no other Republicans have entered the race to run against Downey and Houghtaling.
Amoroso, 50, is serving his third term on the school board and was the top vote-getter when he ran for re-election in 2017.
Woolley, 29, served as chief of staff to Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Wall) and worked at Comcast before joining Bob Hugin’s U.S. Senate campaign as deputy director of strategic initiatives.
The district has tilted heavily to Democrat in recent years. The 11th has 14,411 more Democrats than Republicans. When it was drawn in 2011, the Democratic edge was 10,120.
Downey and Houghtaling unseated Republican assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in 2015 and State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) unseated three-term incumbent Jennifer Beck in 2017.
Republicans ran Ocean Township Deputy Mayor Rob Acerra and Red Bank Councilman Michael Whelan against Downey and Houghtaling in 2017. Acerra lost by 5,340 votes and Whelan by 6,027.