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Sara Haleva. (Photo: Sara Haleva).

Newcomer interested in challenging Gopal

Sara Haleva says she’s mulling Senate bid in 11th district

By David Wildstein, January 05 2023 1:00 pm

Political newcomer from Sara Haleva is considering a run for State Senate in the 11th district against two-term State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch).

“I’m seriously thinking I should get involved, “ Haleva said.  “We have a very good chance to flip the seat.  I’m very interested.”

The 56-year-old Ocean Township resident and Yale Law School graduate, told the New Jersey Globe that she has never been involved in politics before, but thinks her experience as a businesswoman and mother of five would make her a good candidate.

“I’m smart and hardworking, and I have good connections with the Syrian Jewish community,” noted Haleva, who manages family-owned real etsate properties and works as an SAT tutor.

In addition to being a Syrian American, she is also a Latina: her mother was born and raised in Mexico, she stated.

“I am fluent in Spanish and perhaps I can also generate some Hispanic support,” said Haleva.

Haleva thinks she can raise the money needed to compete against Gopal, a prodigious fundraiser who spent $1,061,094 to get re-elected in 2021 and had $562,313 cash-on-hand as of last October.

“I can get a serious amount from my community,” she said.  “I can put in some money, but I’m not super wealthy.”

She would also have to change her party registration.  Record show that she is an unaffiliated voter and has not voted in Republican primaries.

“I thought I was registered as a Republican, but I may not have voted in primaries,” Haleva said.

Republicans have not yet settled on a candidate against Gopal in one of the state’s most politically competitive districts.  Monmouth County Commissioner Director Thomas Arnone, who was widely viewed as the strongest Republican challenger, said last month that he would not seek the Senate seat.

The two Republican assemblywoman who ousted Democratic incumbents in 2021, Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) and Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury), have not yet indicated if they will give up their seats to run for Senate.

Legislative redistricting gave Republicans a narrow path to a majorities in both houses of the legislature under a map approved last year, but there is little chance of taking control without taking out Gopal.

“I don’t know if I can get them to support me,” said Haleva, who does not know any party leaders.  “Maybe if they don’t have anybody else.”

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