Eight candidates will seek the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the Ocean County-based 9th district, where longtime incumbents Brian Rumpf (R-Little Egg Harbor) and DiAnne Gove (R-Long Beach) are seeking re-election.
State Sen. Christopher Connors (R-Lacey) announced last month that he would not run again. Carmen Amato, the mayor of Berkeley Township, has no opposition for the Ocean Republican organization line.
Challenging Rumpf and Gove for party support are former Barnegat Mayor John Novak, Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre, Lacey Mayor Timothy McDonald, Lacey Township Committeeman Mark Dykoff, Berkeley Councilman James Byrnes, and Valerie Smith, the head of the Ocean Academy Charter School in Lakewood.
Byrnes has also put his name into contention for the open county commissioner seat being vacated after 42 years by Republican Joseph Vicari.
The eight candidates filed letters of intent to see the official party endorsement prior to Wednesday’s deadline. The next step is to appear before the Ocean GOP screening committee, which will make endorsements. After that, the candidates will compete at a convention — known in Ocean as the county council.
Novak and Byrnes had previously announced their plan to challenge Rumpf and Gove.
Rumpf, a former Little Egg Harbor mayor, won a special election convention for State Assembly in 2003 after Jeff Moran resigned to become Ocean County Surrogate.
Gove has served in the Assembly since 2009 when she won a special election convention after the incumbent resigned. She is a former Long Beach mayor.