Monmouth County Republicans dumped two-term Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel), instead voting to endorse Holmdel Board of Education President Vicky Flynn to replace her on the organization line in the 13th legislative district.
Flynn defeated DiMaso, 145 to 87.
She lost party support after Monmouth GOP Chairman Shaun Golden, who accused the incumbent of unethical behavior and missing key votes while on vacation.
DiMaso will challenge Flynn and incumbent Gerald Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) in the June Republican primary, but has also retained an attorney to look at a possible legal challenge to the results.
“The methods used to rig, strong arm and coerce the Committee members is reminiscent of Tammany Hall and will unfortunately have to be reviewed by a Judge and eventually reversed for correct, fair and anonymous election as is our American tradition,” said Mike Hanifan, a lawyer from Newton.
Scharfenberger, who is running for his second term, received 213 votes.
The Monmouth GOP also endorsed Jack Ciattarelli for the Republican nomination for governor and Maureen Raish as their candidate for Monmouth County Surrogate. The incumbent surrogate, Rosemarie Peters, is not seeking re-election.
Flynn, 48, is a partner in the Red Bank office of Hill Wallack, a major Central Jersey law firm. She had served as a Nutley school board member for three years before moving to Holmdel. While living in Essex, she was a partner DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole.
“I am overwhelmed and humbled with the support I have received in this campaign. I would like to thank the entire Monmouth County Republican Committee for their endorsement tonight,” Flynn said. “I am excited to join our great Monmouth County Republican leaders – Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger – on the LD13 ticket this year. I look forward to a spirited campaign in 2021 and will work hard to earn every vote.”
DiMaso and Golden have sparred in local races in the assemblywoman’s hometown of Holmdel, where she served as mayor. In 2019 and 2020, she backed local slates running off the line against Golden-endorsed candidates.
One of those candidates was an independent who defeated Flynn in a 2020 race for Holmdel Township Committee.
A 57-year-old former Monmouth County freeholder, DiMaso won the Assembly seat that opened up when O’Scanlon replaced retiring State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown) in 2017.
Golden accused DiMaso of giving tax breaks to a hospital while where she served on the Board of Trustees and criticized her for triggering an ethics investigation after spoofing the telephone number of Democratic legislators in a robocall with a message recorded by the incumbent.
DiMaso becomes the first incumbent in sixteen years to lose part support for a State Assembly seat.
In 2005, Monmouth County Republicans dumped Joseph Azzolina (R-Middletown), who had served 11 terms in the Assembly on and off since 1965 – and one term in the State Senate.
Azzolina ran off the line in Monmouth and on the line in Middlesex County, when the 13th district included Old Bridge.
Handlin defeated him by 624 votes.
This story was updated at 11:36 PM with comment from Hanifan.