New Jersey’s 2021 elections may still be a week away, but for many legislative Republicans, the focus is already on the leadership elections that will take place immediately afterwards to replace Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield).
With those elections in mind, the State Senate GOP sent an internal memo last week inviting senators and potential senators to a vote on November 4 determining the caucus’ next leader. But the email’s recipient list itself came with a potent message: there were only 17 names on it, far from the 21 needed to build a majority in the Senate.
A spokesperson for the State Senate GOP declined to comment on the memo.
All 12 Republican senators seeking re-election were included on the email, as was State Sen.-elect Vince Polistina (R-Egg Harbor), who still has yet to be officially sworn in to the 2nd district’s Senate seat.
Among non-incumbents, the email was sent to Bramnick, who is favored in his bid to win the 21st district’s Senate seat; Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), running to flip the 8th district; former Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg) in the 16th district; and Lori Annetta, who is waging a more longshot campaign against State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) in the 11th district.
But Republicans also have candidates running for 21 more districts, including in some that the Senate GOP campaign arm has touted as potential upset victories.
Adam Elias, the Republican nominee for the historically competitive 14th district, was among those left off the email. When asked about the leadership vote, Elias said that he is only focused on winning his race, and will shift to thinking about internal caucus wrangling if he wins.
“At this point I’m not all that concerned/interested with intra-party politics; just focused on gaining the trust and support from as many voters in LD-14 as possible to secure victory on November 2,” he said. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it!”