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Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Middlesex GOP picks Ciattarelli, Pappas

By David Wildstein, March 15 2021 7:16 pm

Middlesex County Republicans voted overwhelmingly in support of Jack Ciattarelli for governor at their convention on Saturday but gave former Rep. Michael Pappas a narrow endorsement in his bid for a State Senate seat.

Ciattarelli won the Middlesex County Republican organization line by an 85%-7% margin over perennial candidate Hirsh Singh, with Rev. Phil Rizzo finishing third with 5% and former Franklin Mayor and Somerset County Freeholder Brian D. Levine taking 3% of the vote.

Pappas, a former congressman, defeated Jeffrey Grant, a Montgomery Township resident, by just three votes, 9-6, in a contest that involved only South Brunswick convention delegates in the 16th legislative district.

Former Edison Councilman Wayne Mascola, who was elected twice as a Democrat before switching parties, will run for Middlesex County Commissioner on a ticket with Patricia Badovinac, a realtor from Piscataway.  They’ll face incumbents Ron Rios and Shanti Narra.

Republican Lisa Goldhamer, who ran for the State Assembly eight years ago, will be her party’s candidate for Surrogate against North Brunswick Councilwoman Claribel Cortes.

Adam Elias of Monroe and Andrew Pachuta of Hamilton won the Middlesex GOP line for Assembly in the 14th district by a wide margin over Bina Shah.  Elias received 27 votes, with 27 for Pachuta and just two for Shah.  The Democratic incumbents, Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) and Dan Benson (R-Hamilton), are seeking re-election.

Middlesex Republicans did not vote on a challenger to State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) in the 14th, but instead will await a candidate from Mercer County.

In other Senate races, the Middlesex GOP backed Piscataway attorney James Abate to challenge State Sen. Robert Smith (D-Piscataway) in the 17th, and Edison’s Vinal Patel against State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield in the 18th.

Against State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) in the 19th, the Republican candidate will be Christian Onuha, who ran against Speaker Craig Coughlin in 2019 and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch in 2020.

Abate will run with Peter Gabra and Catherine Barrier, who defeated Mina Massak by a 3-1 margin at the convention.  Patel’s running mates for Assembly are South Plainfield Councilwoman Melanie McCann Mott and Angela Fam of East Brunswick.   In the 19th, the Assembly candidates are Tony Gallo and Bruce Banko.

Longtime Republican State Committeeman Donald Katz is seeking re-election, along with incumbent State Committeewoman April Bengivenga.

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