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A fundraiser for Monmouth County Democrats drew numerous top Democrats to a country club in Neptune despite storms that harried the state Wednesday night.
“Here, what you’ve done is incredible,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) told the crowd. “Flipping close to 40 seats, an average of nearly 10 an election cycle, is an amazing record, and you’re competing all across the map, winning council seats in places that didn’t have a single Democrat before and even winning new majorities. Everybody knows in the state of New Jersey about LD11.”
Since 2015, Monmouth Democrats have flipped 38 local seats held by Republicans and have lost only five Democrat-held seats.
That year, Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold) and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) ousted Republican incumbents in the 11th legislative district. They became the first Democrats to ever win re-election there in 2017.
State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) flipped the 11th’s Senate seat in 2017, becoming the first Asian Indian American to be elected to New Jersey’s State Senate.
“When I first got Vin sitting next to me, I told Vin, I said ‘listen, I became a senator. I sat next to Sharpe James and Ray Lesniak. Sharpe James and Ray Lesniak had 50 years combined experience in the senate. I was 34 years old,’” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) said. “I’m sitting there, so I said ‘listen, Senator Gopal, what I did the first two years — I didn’t say a word, and then these guys started asking me for my opinion two years later.’ Obviously, he does not hold to those same ideas, because Vin has obviously been a leader of our caucus for many, many years.”
Since being, Gopal has become chair of the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Monmouth Democrats victories haven’t gone unnoticed.
Eight Democratic County chairs were in attendance: David Brown of Monmouth, Amy DeGise of Hudson, LeRoy Jones of Essex, Paul Juliano of Bergen, Kevin McCabe of Middlesex, Peg Schaefer of Somerset, Wyatt Earp of Ocean and Scutari of Union.
Besides Gottheimer, Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) attended the Monmouth fundraiser, as did State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who lives in Monmouth County, did not attend. He returned from a family vacation in Italy earlier today.
Gopal said the 650 tickets were sold for the fundraiser.
Those tickets ran between $50 and $125, and event sponsorships ran between $250 and $5,000.