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A Democratic councilman from Phillipsburg has switched parties and will support the Republican challenger in the November 5 mayoral race.
Mark Lutz, who won 31% of the vote in his Democratic primary challenge to Mayor Steven Ellis, switched to the GOP on Tuesday, according to a tweet from Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt, the Warren County GOP Chairman.
The party switch gives Republicans a 4-1 majority on the Town Council, at least for now.
Lutz gave up his seat to run for mayor. The other Democratic incumbent, Lee Clark, is seeking re-election on a ticket with James Stettner. The face Republicans Harry Wyant, a former Mayor, and Randy Piazza.
Ellis, who defeated Wyant four years ago, faces Todd Tersigni, a former two-term Democratic councilman who ran as an independent mayoral candidate in 2011.
In heavily Republican Warren County, Phillipsburg is a swing town.
In 2018, Phillipsburg gave Democrat Tom Malinowski a 273-vote margin in his bid to unseat Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township), but Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin won the town by 14 votes.
Donald Trump carried it by 275 votes in 2016 and Phil Murphy won it by 68 votes in 2017.