Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Westfield), Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Assembly Republican Conference Leader Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) have endorsed Laura Marie Ali for Morris County Republican chair.
“We are proud to endorse Laura Marie Ali for Chair of the Morris County Republican Committee. Laura was a strong force behind Republican victories across Morris County in 2019 and has a proven leadership ability in uniting Republicans,” the legislators said. “She is the best candidate to energize Republicans throughout Morris County.”
Kean’s decision to take sides in the county chairman race comes with some risk: Morris County makes up about 15% of the total general election vote in the 7th congressional district and Kean needs to score a significant plurality there in order to win his race against freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).
Five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) won the Morris portion of the 7th in 2018 by 2,160 votes against Malinowski. Four years earlier, Lance’s Morris County margin was 6,855.
Ali helped clear the GOP primary field last month so that Rosemary Becchi could drop her primary challenge to Kean and become the likely Republican nominee against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in the 11th district.
As a potential candidate for the 2021 Republican gubernatorial nomination, Bramnick also has a vested interest in picking the winner in an internal GOP fight. Morris County has no organization line in primary elections.
Ali became the acting county chair last November when Ron DeFilippis stepped aside for personal and health reasons.
So far, Ali has no opponent in the June party leadership election.
Rob Zwigard, who lost to DeFilippis by four votes in 2018, is considering another run for the post. Former Morris County freeholder John Inglesino had mulled a run for county chairman, but appears to have decided against it.
Kean, Bramnick and Munoz represent two Morris County municipalities, Chatham Borough and Long Hill, in the legislature.
Freshman Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) announced his support of Ali last week.