Home>Campaigns>Steinhardt locks up key endorsements to secure State Senate seat

Doug Steinhardt. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Steinhardt locks up key endorsements to secure State Senate seat

Will run with Peterson and DiMaio in 2023, leaving no real path for another candidate to succeed Doherty

By David Wildstein, September 01 2022 1:58 pm

Former GOP State Chairman Doug Steinhardt appears to have lined up enough support to win the 23rd district State Senate seat after receiving endorsements from key Republican officials, including the man he wants to succeed, State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Oxford).

Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) has also endorsed Steinhardt, a move that likely ends speculation that he might be replaced on  the Republican ticket next year after legislative redistricting dramatically reduced the percentage of Hunterdon County in the western New Jersey legislative district.  Peterson and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio will run with Steinhardt in 2023.

“I know Doug Steinhardt will do an excellent job representing the conservative values of District 23,” said Peterson.  “Trenton needs more pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-American leaders like Doug Steinhardt and I look forward to running with him.”

Doherty is giving up his Senate seat to run for Warren County Surrogate and Steinhardt is seeking to replace him in a special election convention in either December or January.

“He is a principled conservative who will continue to represent the pro-life and pro-second amendment values of his constituents,” said Doherty, who was unanimously nominated as the GOP surrogate candidate at a convention last night.

Steinhardt has also received endorsements form DiMaio, Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho, Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moench, and all five members of the Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners.

Warren County is already set to back Steinhardt.  He spent 15 years as the mayor of Lopatcong and has served as GOP county chairman since 2004.  Two county commissioners, Lori Ciesla and James R. Kern III, quickly voices support for Steinhardt on social media immediately after word of Doherty’s decision to run for surrogate was finalized.

As the mayor of the largest municipality in the district, Moench’s support is particularly important.  Bridgewater has 72 county committee votes out of Somerset County and effectively creates a mathematical barrier to any other candidate having a path to win the convention.

“I know Doug Steinhardt will serve Bridgewater with the integrity and passion this community deserves.  He will be an exceptional check and balance on the extreme fiscal policies being proposed by the Murphy Administration,” Moench said.  “I  trust Doug to be our representative fighting for our families.  He has my complete confidence and endorsement.”

DiMaio, who became the second-highest ranking Republican in Trenton earlier this year, said he was looking forward to serving with Steinhardt.

“He was a successful Mayor, growing the economy while keeping taxes low, and he is a successful Republican County Chairman who has expanded and maintained the conservative footprint in Warren County,” the minority leader said.

Oroho said that Steinhardt “will be a tremendous addition to the New Jersey Senate Republican caucus.”

“He was one of the state’s strongest Republican voices as the state GOP chairman and he has deep experience flipping blue seats red,” Oroho said.  “He is exactly the type of conservative leader we need on our team to help us fight for the majority and check the out-of-control liberal agenda coming from Trenton Democrats.”

The five Hunterdon commissioners — John E. Lanza, Zachary T. Rich, Shaun C. Van Doren, Susan Soloway, and Jeff Kuhl – also offers a solid block for Steinhardt as he competes at a convention to fill Doherty’s unexpired term.

“Having the endorsement of all five Hunterdon Commissioners is no easy task, but Chairman Steinhardt has earned our respect,” said Lanza, the commissioner director and a potential candidate for State Senate in the next-door 16th district in 2023.  “I look forward to working closely with him to bring Hunterdon County residents in the 23rd district the representation they have grown accustomed to from Senator Doherty.”

Commissioner Zachary Rich thanked Doherty for his years of service as a senator and assemblyman representing parts of Hunterdon County.

“He leaves big shoes to fill, but no one can fill them better than Doug Steinhardt,” Rich stated.  “Chairman Steinhardt embodies Hunterdon County values and I look forward to his advocacy for Hunterdon County residents in the 23rd district.”

To trigger a special election convention for the Senate seat, Doherty must first win the November general election for surrogate.  He carried Warren County by a near 2-1 margin in his re-election campaign last year and is the overwhelming favorite to win this year countywide.

Democrats, who have not won a countywide election in Warren County in 23 years, are scheduled to pick Doherty’s opponent on September 8.  So far, former Lopatcong Councilwoman Maureen McCabe is the only Democrat to express interest in running for surrogate.

Warren County was not expected to elect a surrogate until 2025, but the death of three-term incumbent Kevin O’Neill in April has reset the political calendar.  The November 8 election will be for a five-year term.

Republicans nominated Doherty after Nancy Brown withdrew from the race last Friday.

If Steinhardt wins, he will serve the balance of Doherty’s current two-year term that expires on January 9, 2024.   He plans to seek a four-year term in the newly drawn 23rd district next year.


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