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The Assembly Chambers at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Special election convention to replace Dancer

Jackson mayor seeking support for open Assembly seat

By David Wildstein, August 01 2022 9:23 am

Republican county committee members from the 12th legislative district will meet on August 11 to select a replacement for Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted), a longtime legislator who died on July 23.

Jackson Mayor Michael Reina has now joined the race for the open seat, bringing the total number of potential candidates up to five.  He’s one of two Jackson candidates in the race, along with Council Vice President Alex Sauickie III.

Englishtown Councilman Daniel Francisco, Plumsted Township Committeeman Dominick Cuozzo, and former Toms River Councilman Brian Kubiel are also looking at the race.  Kubiel now lives in Plumsted.

The special election convention is expected to be held in Freehold, a central location for an elongated district that runs from Middlesex to Burlington.

Reina is up for re-election this year.  If he gets the Assembly seat, Sauickie could become the acting mayor.

Jackson has non-partisan municipal elections and the filing deadline is September 6.

Dancer had served in the Assembly since he won a 2002 special election convention following the death of Assemblyman Melvin Cottrell (R-Jackson).   Dancer’s funeral was held last week.

The contest for Dancer’s seat is under the current map drawn in 2011.  The new lines won’t take effect until next year.

The district includes: Old Bridge in Middlesex; Allentown, Englishtown, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone, Roosevelt and Upper Freehold in Monmouth; Jackson and Plumsted in Ocean; and Chesterfield, New Hanover, North Hanover and Wrightstown in Burlington.

Eleven years ago, when the map-drawing panel approved the new 12th, there was no incumbent senator and three sitting Republican assemblymen: Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge), Robert Clifton (R-Matawan), and Dancer.  The four county chairman agreed that Thompson and Middlesex would get the Senate seat.

There appears to be no opposition to Ocean County keeping their Assembly seat.

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