Home>Campaigns>Steve Sweeney keeps a close watch on Gloucester; without him, it might be a two-party county

Gloucester County Commissioner Robert Damminger. (Photo: Rowan University).

Steve Sweeney keeps a close watch on Gloucester; without him, it might be a two-party county

By David Wildstein, November 01 2021 12:01 am

If Jack Ciattarelli wins Tuesday’s gubernatorial election, it will be because he was able to flip places like Gloucester County, where Democrats have managed to lock down despite demographics than might indicate some competitiveness.

And if it wasn’t for Senate President Steve Sweeney, whose careful attention to local politics, Gloucester might be a Republican county.

Republicans haven’t won a countywide election in Gloucester since 2010, when Larry Wallace and Vincent Nestore, Jr. scored narrow upset victories after two incumbent Democrats, Joseph Brigandi and Jean DuBois, did not seek re-election.

Robert Damminger is seeking his eighth term as county commissioner on a ticket with West Deptford Mayor Denise DiCarlo.  The other incumbent, James Lavender, is not running for a second term.  Damminger won three years ago by 15,673 votes.

They face Republicans Nick DeSilvio and Chris Konawel, who are making their second bids for county commissioner.  In 2020, DeSilvio came within 1,944 votes of ousting incumbent Lyman Barnes; Konawel trailed DeSilvio by just 55 votes and finished 2,173 votes behind another incumbent, Jim Jefferson.

Sheriff Carmel Morina is seeking his sixth term as Gloucester County Sheriff.  He was the Greenwich Township police chief in 2006 when Gloucester Democrats decided to back him over the incumbent Democrat, Gilbert Miller.  Miller declined to seek re-election rather than fight the organization in the primary.

He faces Republican Jonathan Sammons in a rematch of the 2018 sheriff’s race.  Morina beat Sammons three years ago by 17,777 votes, 58%-42%.

Republican Chris Christie carried Gloucester County twice., the first time by three percentage points against the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine.

Gloucester was the only New Jersey county controlled by Democrats that Donald Trump carried in 2016 (by 674 votes against Hillary Clinton), but Joe Biden won it by 3,362 in 2020.

Woolwich was one of two Gloucester municipalities that Trump on in 2016 and lost in his re-election bid; Westville was the other.  Two incumbent Woolwich township committee members are on the ballot this year: Democrat Natalie Matthias and Republican Craig Frederick. They face Democrat Jean Garozzo and Republican Cindy Minhas.

In Westville, incumbents Bruce Nordaby and Timothy Young are the Democratic candidates.  Just one Republican, Michael Logeran, is on the ballot.

Sweeney was a Gloucester County freeholder when he wrestled commitments for the organization line for State Senate against eight-term Democratic State Sen. Raymond Zane in 2001.  Rather than face Sweeney in a primary, Zane switched parties and lost the Senate seat after 28 years by 1,735 votes and three percentage points.

Democrats have held the Sheriff’s post since 2000, when Republican Chuck Gill did not seek re-election.  Miller, a retired state police captain, defeated Republican Carmen DiNovi, who has worked for the U.S. Marshal.

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