The three conservative GOP incumbents have announced their bids for re-election in the safe Republican 23rd district in northwestern New Jersey that includes parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties.
State Sen. Doug Steinhardt (R-Lopatcong) will run for his first full term in the New Jersey State Senate. He won a December 2022 special election convention to replace Michael Doherty (R-Oxford), who resigned after his election as the Warren County Surrogate.
The slate includes Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) and Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin). Peterson is Hunterdon County’s lone representative in the legislature.
“Our little corner of New Jersey can show the rest of this state a path forward,” said Steinhardt. “New Jersey’s state government needs a lesson in conservative values, the courage to make tough choices, and old-fashioned hard work.”
DiMaio, who started as a Democratic councilman in Hackettstown and then switched to the GOP years ago, could be Assembly Speaker if Republicans take control of the lower house in the midterm elections.
“New Jersey continues to head down a dark path, and politicians in Trenton are in desperate need of conservative leadership,” Peterson explained. “We are here to fight for long-term solutions to lower the cost of living and make our communities more secure based on the principles of lower taxes, individual liberties, and smaller government.”
Steinhardt is a former Republican state chairman and longtime Warren County GOP chairman who served as mayor of Lopatcong for fifteen years. He joined the Senate late last year with a statewide base after briefly seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2021.
“In Warren, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties, our families are raised on those very principles, and that is the type of leadership this team brings to the table in Trenton,” he said. “I am proud to launch our re-election and continue the fight to make New Jersey safer and more affordable for your family.”
Peterson, one of the legislature’s strongest conservatives, ran for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district last year, finishing third in the GOP primary that was won by Rep. Thomas Kean (R-Westfield). Now he’s seeking to retain the seat he’s held since 2009, despite challenging organization line picks in Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties.
“Trenton is a mess, and there is no easy way to fix it. This is a team of fighters, and we are up for the task,” stated Peterson. “Our constituents know they can always count on us to keep government out of your pocket and hold to our rock-ribbed conservative principles. We will always stand up for our district’s values and punch back at the liberal assault on our freedoms.”
No Democrats have stepped up yet to take on the Republican incumbent slate.
It’s been a long time since any Democrat has represented variations of this district. Robert Shelton, Jr. (D-Ogdensburg) ousted Assemblyman Walter C. Keough-Dwyer (R-Vernon) in the 1973 Democratic Watergate landslide. He served for one term.
In 1977, Democrat Barbara McConnell (D-Flemington) flipped an Assembly seat in a Hunterdon-based district and held it for four years before running for Governor.