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Middlesex County Republican Chair Lucille Panos. (Photo: Facebook.)

Panos will step down as Middlesex GOP chair

37-year-old South Plainfield councilman is the leading candidate to replace her

By David Wildstein, June 10 2021 8:25 pm

Lucille Panos will not seek re-election as Middlesex County Republican and expects South Plainfield Councilman Robert Bengivenga, Jr. to succeed her.

Panos announced her decision on a call with Republican party leaders on Thursday evening.

The election is set for June 22.

The 64-year-old Panos was elected county chair in 2016 when State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) decided to give up the post.  She is a former Old Bridge councilwoman and served as the party’s executive director when Thompson was county chairman.

She is one of five women who serve as GOP county chairs in New Jersey, and one of then in the state.

Bengivenga, 38, is a five-term member of the South Plainfield Borough Council.  He sought a State Assembly seat in the 18th district in 2013 and 2019.

Middlesex is a Democratic stronghold, but there are few paths to a statewide victory for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli that don’t include flipping the largely suburban Middlesex County.

Republicans have not won a countywide election in Middlesex since 1991, but Chris Christie carried in both of his races for governor.  Still, Joe Biden carried Middlesex by 82,783 votes, a 60%-39% win.

Middlesex has 154,697 more Democrats than Republicans.

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