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Democratic Assembly candidate Gina LaPlaca. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

LaPlaca, Benson lead in Lumberton

By Nikita Biryukov, November 11 2020 1:07 pm

Democratic challengers Gina LaPlaca and Terrance Benson lead Lumberton Republican Township Committeeman James Dwyer and running mate Mark Miller.

LaPlaca, Lumberton’s Democratic chairwoman, is in first place with 3,745 votes. Benson’s 3,578 votes put him in second place.

Dwyer is in last place with 3,285 votes, while Miller had 3,331 ballots cast in his name.

The results are ominous for Republicans, who risk losing their last two seats in Lumberton and handing Democrats there a 5-0 majority that would keep the GOP a minority party there until at least 2022.

While it’s unclear how many outstanding mail-in ballots remain in Burlington County, there were only 434 provisional ballots cast in Lumberton.

Those are expected to break for Republicans, but Miller would have to win roughly 80% of those to win more votes than Benson. The math is even worse for Dwyer, who would have to win about 84% of such ballots to close the gap with the worse-performing Democrat.

The Democratic challengers faced some hurdles in their bid for office. First, Mayor Ryan Tuno was censured over a Labor Day weekend encounter with police during which the Democrat allegedly attempted to use his position as mayor and the town’s police and municipal court liaison to have the event buried.

The Township Committee referred the matter to the State Ethics Board.

Then, Lumberton Republicans filed a complaint against Benson with the Election Law Enforcement Commission over his role as treasurer of Emerging Leaders NJ, a political action committee. ELEC regulations bar candidates from managing a PAC while seeking office.

Township Committeeman Sean Earlen, Burlington County’s Republican chairman, did not seek re-election.

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