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Scott Salmon.

Salmon considering bid for 21st district Assembly seat

Election lawyer is close Malinowski ally

By David Wildstein, January 28 2021 12:12 pm

Scott Salmon, who has emerged as one of New Jersey’s top election lawyers over the last few years, is under consideration for the Democratic nomination for State Assembly in the 21st district.

“I am very interested in running,” Salmon said.  “I’m a proud Democrat and I would not want to run without my party’s support, so it is something that I am currently discussing with party leaders, elected officials, and activist groups.”

Salmon won headlines – and praise from Democrats – in 2020 after challenging nominating petitions filed by entertainer Kanye West as an independent presidential candidate.  West dropped his bid to be on the ballot in New Jersey on the eve of an expected courtroom faceoff with Salmon.

The 30-year-old lawyer had briefly sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district in 2018 but withdrew early and endorsed Tom Malinowski.  Since then, Salmon and Malinowski have become close political allies.  Salmon served as counsel to the Malinowski for Congress campaign in 2018 and 2020.

So far, five Democrats are competing for the two Assembly seats in a district that has become politically competitive over the last several years: Bernards Demcoratic Municipal Chair Elizabeth Graner; National Organization of Women (NOW) New Jersey president Anjali Mehrotra, the Mountainside Democratic municipal chair; former New Jersey Division of Women director Ileana Montes; and Harrison Clewell, a former intern for a Hudson County assemblyman.

Former Cranford Mayor Patrick Giblin, the scion of one of the state’s most prominent Democratic families, is also mulling a bid.

Salmon said the future of his candidacy depends on whether party leaders in Union, Somerset and Morris counties will back him for the Assembly.

“If I receive their support then I would be grateful and ready to run,” said Salmon.

The candidates picked by the Democrats will face Assembly Minority Conference Leader Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), but the second GOP candidate remains unclear.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) will either run for re-election to the State Assembly, or for the State Senate if Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), the Senate minority leader, decides to forgo re-election to seek a rematch with Malinowski in 2022.

If that happens, Republicans will need to pick a new Munoz running mate for a rare open Assembly seat.

Summit Republican Municipal Chairman Steve Spurr, 34, has already announced that he would run if Kean’s retirement triggered an open Assembly seat.

Amber Murad, a 32-year-old Watchung school board member, has also said he would consider running for an open seat.

Somerset County Republicans might seek to enforce a decade-old deal that would give them the next open 21st district Assembly seat, but the Union County GOP views the accord as too long ago and they feel no obligation to honor it.

The agreement came in the days following 2011 legislative redistricting, when the new map put Bernards Township, where 16th district Assemblywoman Denise Coyle lived, into the 21st with Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz.

In order to avoid a primary fight, Union County agreed to cede the next available Assembly seat to Somerset in exchange for giving their organization line to Bramnick and Munoz.  Coyle became a casualty of redistricting and did not seek re-election.

New Providence Councilwoman Michele Matsikoudis is also receiving strong consideration for Former Bernards Mayor Carol Bianchi, Warren Township Committeewoman Yolanda Maziarz, Bernards Mayor Janice Fields, and former Bernards Township Committeeman John Carpenter and Coyle are also potential candidates.  A candidate from Morris County could also emerge as a candidate.

Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello has announced his bid for the 21st district State Senate seat, either against Kean or Bramnick.

Eddie Donnelly, the president of the New Jersey Firefight Mutual Benevolent Association, is also mulling a Senate bid.

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