Democrats are positioned to influence the outcome of a runoff election for mayor and township council in Ocean County next week, where two Republicans are facing off in what is legally a non-partisan election.
Incumbent Robert Hudak was the top vote-getter on November 8 but fell 1,009 votes short of a first ballot win, 44%-31% against Rob Arace, who has the backing of Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore. A third candidate, Ken Seda, a Democrat, received 25%.
Sources have told the New Jersey Globe that local Demcorats are expected to issue a statement in advance of the runoff that suggests that change would be good for the quickly-growing municipality but stops short of making an endorsement.
Arace has been cultivating votes from residents – many of them seniors – who are homeowners but not taxpayers lease the land their pre-fab homes (which could be moved but are not trailers) sit. Arace has promised to institute a form of rent control for the land, something Hudak has opposed.
A built-in advantage for Democrats who automatically received vote-by-mail ballots means that 52% of all votes cast in advance of the December 13 election so far have been from Democrats in a town Donald Trump carried by nineteen percentage points against Joe Biden two years ago.
So far, 31% of all ballots mailed by the Ocean County Clerk have been returned to the Board of Elections, although the total number of pre-election votes cast – 1,768 – represents just 4.5% of the total number of voters in the township.
Republicans have returned 589 of the 1,776 VBM ballots sent out (33%), while 922 of the 2,834 vote-by-mail ballots sent to Democrats (32.5%) have already come back. The county clerk sent out mail-in ballots to 1,144 unaffiliated voters, with 257 (22%) already returned.
Local election turnout on November 8 in Manchester was 45%.
The return of vote-by-mail ballots for runoff elections in Perth Amboy and Trenton have been incredibly slow.
Just 12% of the 6,050 mail-in ballots sent out to Perth Amboy voters have been returned so far. In Trenton, a mere 9% of the 1,877 ballots mailed to North and South Ward voters have come back.