School board member Jill DeCaro has won a special election for Old Bridge Township Council in a Ward 4 special election, defeating Republican Mark Razzoli in a big win for New Jersey Democrats and the Middlesex County Democratic organization.
DeCaro defeated Razzoli, by 145 votes, 838-693 (54.7% to 45.3%). Voter turnout was at 19%.
DeCaro was fueled by a massive win on vote-by-mail ballots, 477-198, about 71%. Razzoli won the machine vote, 495-361.
Republicans hold a 7-2 majority on the township council.
In the November 2021 election, DeCaro had unseated Razzoli, who had been the incumbent, by 11 votes, but a Superior Court Judge invalidated the election after that 27 voters received the wrong ballot and 17 of them voted.
Her win stops Republicans from sweeping three towns that Joe Biden carried in 2020. The GOP had already won special elections in Maywood and South Toms River after the final election results had ended in a tie.
Last year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli won the 4th ward, not including some residents of Cymbeline Drive, with 66% and a 570-vote margin.
Vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by 8 PM tonight will be counted as long as they arrive at the Middlesex County Board of Elections by close of business on Monday. There are at least 43 provisional ballots that won’t be counted until next week.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey found the state Division of Elections at fault for the 2021 election mishap, saying the statewide voter database didn’t properly follow boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map put voters from the odd numbered homes on one side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2, and the even numbered homes on the opposite side of Cymbeline Drive residing in the Ward 4.
Republicans won a February 15 election for a seat on the Maywood Borough Council. The November election had resulted in a tie and the special election flipped a Democratic seat to the GOP. Danyel Cicarelli, a school board member, ousted Democratic Councilwoman Katherine Benin by 41 votes.
Voters in South Toms River also went Republican in a March 15 do-over to decide the fate of a November 2020 race that ended in a tie. Extended court battles and an appellate court that seemed to be in no apparent hurry led to this seat being unfilled for more than a year.
The winner in South River was Republican Sandford Ross, who had previously been the incumbent.
Razzoli had been elected as a Democrat, served as Democratic municipal chairman, and sought his party’s nomination for mayor in 2019. After the primary, Razzoli switched to the Republicans and ran against Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th district.
Late last year, Razzoli entered the race to challenge State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) in the Republican primary, but later withdrew.
2021 was Razzoli’s first municipal campaign under his new party designation.
Attorneys for DeCaro asked the Supreme Court to hearing the case after Appellate Court Judge Carmen Messano agreed with McCloskey that some Cymbeline Drive residents have been registered in the wrong ward for several years. But the Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Middlesex County officials told the New Jersey Globe last week that they might ask the state to pay costs associated with the new election since the fault lied with them and not the county clerk.
The early elections came as Biden’s national job approvals remain under water – a Monmouth University poll released last week had Biden’s approvals at 40%-48% nationally – and a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll had Gov. Phil Murphy’s favorables narrowly upside-down for the first time since he took office in 2018: 33%-38%. The same poll shows that 52% of New Jerseyans think the state is on the wrong track.