Home>Highlight>Dover mayor loses party support for re-election, with Correa scoring landslide win

Dover Democratic Municipal Chairman Edward Correa. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe).

Dover mayor loses party support for re-election, with Correa scoring landslide win

By David Wildstein, March 26 2023 8:17 pm

Dover Mayor Carolyn Blackman won just two votes in her bid for party support for a second term, with Edward Correa, the Democratic municipal chairman and a former alderman, easily winning the organization line in the June primary.

Correa defeated Sandra Wittner, a member of the Board of Aldermen, by a vote of 12 to 5 to capture the organization line for mayor.  A fourth candidate, former four-term Mayor James P. Dodd, did not enter the race for the organization line.

Blackman unseated Dodd by 50 votes in 2019 after Dodd skipped the Democratic primary and ran as an independent to become the first Black mayor of the town.

She told the New Jersey Globe after the vote that she will remain in the race, running with Ward 2Alderman Judith Rugg.

“I am going to file,” Blackman said.  “I will work with any alderman who gets elected if I win.”

Wittner and Dodd have indicated their intention to run in the Democratic primary to become mayor of a Morris County town that is 68% Hispanic.

Correa’s Aldermen slate also won the convention: Jessica Cruz in Ward 1, Cindy Isaza in Ward 2, Michael Scarneo in Ward 3, and incumbent Carlos Valencia in Ward 4.  Wittner will run with perennial candidate T.C. McCourt in Ward 1, Jennifer Podesta in Ward 2, and Isiah Strickland in Ward 3.  Valencia was unopposed at the convention.  County committee members tonight cast a single vote for mayor, alderman, and county committee.

Additionally, Correa’s slate of county committee candidates will appear on the organization line.

Dodd, who served as mayor for sixteen years, had seen an insurgent group led by Correa seize control of the local Democratic organization in 2018.  With the support of the Morris County Democratic organization, the Dover First group won 19 of 25 county committee seats that had previously been held by Dodd allies.

Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson had also pulled the line from Correa, who was seeking re-election as a Ward 3 alderman.   He lost the Democratic primary to Karol Ruiz by 34 votes.

Another Correa ally denied the line, Valencia, lost the Ward 4 primary to Marcos Tapia Aguilar, Sr. by 33 votes.  Aguilar had served as an alderman for two years until losing the 2021 Democratic primary.  In that race,  Gov. Phil Murphy declined to endorse him because of his pro-life position.  The other three incumbents backed by Murphy won.

Robinson’s decision to pull the organization line from Correa last year contributed to his resignation last April.

Dodd ousted Republican 4th ward alderman R. Keith Titus in 1997 by 67 votes, 43%-32%, in a three-way race.  He was elected mayor in 2003 with 62% of the vote after Republican Javier Mar stepped down and was one of a large number of Democratic mayors who endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie for re-election in 2013.

McCourt, the Todd Caliguire of Morris County Democrats, lost his second bid for alderman.  He ran as an independent on Dodd’s slate in 2019, lost bids for Morris County commissioner in 2021 and 2022, and explored a mayoral bid this year.  Under the name Thomas C. Robinson, he ran as a Republican for county supervisor in Virginia in 2011.

“I consider myself to be more of a Conservative than a Republican, and my political idols are Indira Ghandi, Lech Walesa, Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher,” McCourt said at the time.

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