If Heather Darling wins her bid for Morris County Surrogate, it would trigger a special election convention for her freeholder seat.
The winner would serve the remainder of her term, which is up in 2020.
There’s no guarantee that she will win – she faces a tough primary against twelve-term Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) – but if she does, it will trigger a convention fight for a freeholder seat.
The winner of that race could be the candidate who does that best job of filling county committee vacancies between now and January.
In the 2018 primary election, 292 of 792 district leader seats were unfilled – a total of 37% countywide. Some seats were won by write-in candidates and several have since been filled by appointment.
Morris County Democrats haven’t won a surrogate race since 1912, when Augustus Bartley, the Mount Olive tax assessor, defeated Morristown city clerk Nathaniel Toms by 42 votes on the coattails of Gov. Woodrow Wilson’s election as president.
Bartley had been a two-term freeholder (1898 to 1903) but lost a state assembly race to Richard Chaplin (R-Mount Arlington) in 1906 by 853 votes. He unsuccessfully challenged incumbent David Young in a 1907 race for surrogate.
He ran for surrogate again 1912 and defeated Morristown alderman John Gill by 18 votes in the Democratic primary.
Morris Republicans had a primary fight between Sheriff William H. Thompson and former Assemblyman George Downs (R-Madison) for surrogate in 1917. Thompson won, and went on to defeat Bartley in the general election.
Thompson won a rematch against Bartley in 1922.