Home>Campaigns>Piperno says she’s not yet thinking about potential 2023 State Senate campaign

Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Piperno says she’s not yet thinking about potential 2023 State Senate campaign

Gopal may be Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat

By Joey Fox, December 06 2022 11:49 am

When Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) and Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury) unseated two Democratic incumbents last year in the Monmouth County-based 11th legislative district, it was one of the most surprising election results anywhere in the state.

It also put both of them in immediate contention for a bigger prize: the Senate seat held by State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), who simultaneously won re-election last year. Gopal is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic legislators in 2023, and the deadline for Republicans to settle on a candidate is fast approaching.

But asked yesterday about the possibility of a Senate campaign, Piperno demurred, saying that for now she’s focused on doing her job in the Assembly.

“I’ve got to worry about the here and now,” Piperno said. “But I thank you for that compliment, if someone thinks that highly of me.”

Eulner, meanwhile, refused to speak with the New Jersey Globe.

The Monmouth County Republican convention usually takes place in March, with the filing deadline coming a couple weeks before the convention. That means any Republican interested in running for the 11th district will have to begin building up a campaign apparatus soon.

Other potential candidates include County Commission Director Tom Arnone and state GOP executive director Tom Szymanski.

In their first election, Piperno and Eulner got 25.1% and 24.9% of the vote, respectively, to defeat Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold)’s 24.7% and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune)’s 24.5%; only 347 votes ultimately separated Eulner from Downey. Gopal outran both his Assembly running mates as well as Gov. Phil Murphy, defeating Republican Lori Annetta 51.9%-48.1%.

Since then, the district has been redrawn to be slightly more Democratic – enough so that one or both of Downey and Houghtaling might have eked out re-election if the 2021 contest had been held under the new lines. Murphy would have lost it by 2.4 points, and congressional Democrats narrowly carried it this year.

Regardless, the 11th district is sure to host some of 2023’s top races, with both parties seeking to get a clean sweep. Republicans view defeating Gopal as critical to making serious gains in the legislature, while Democrats hope to regain the two Assembly seats and prove that the victory of Piperno and Eulner was only a temporary aberration.

This story was updated at 7:47 p.m. with a correction: Theresa Furmato Velardi is 27, meaning she does not meet the required age of 30 to be a New Jersey state senator.

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