Edward Ramsey has defeated Democratic Salem County Freeholder Charles Hassler, leaving Democrats with a single seat on the board, but Surrogate Nicki Burke defeated her Republican challenger to win another term.
The margins in New Jersey’s smallest county were slim, but not razor sharp. Ramset beat Hassler 16,669-16,299, a two-point win.
Burke had a slightly slimmer margin — she won by 2.4 points — defeating Republican Beth McCarthy Patrick 16,965-16,169.
Candidates have the option of seeking a recount.
Democrats will have another shot to win a majority next year, when Republican incumbents Mickey Ostrum and Ben Laury come up for election.
They could win those seats. Control of Salem’s Freeholder Board has shifted repeatedly over recent years. It’s even changed without any election.
Republicans won control of the county in 2017 but lost it about a month later when then-Freeholder Melissa DeCastro announced she was joining the Democratic party.
She lost her re-election race the next year, returning to Republicans their 3-2 majority. Then last year, the county elected Democratic Freeholder Lee Ware and Republican Freeholder Scott Griscom.
Democrats could get some tailwinds from the top of the ticket. While President Barack Obama narrowly won Salem by 350 votes in 2012, President Donald Trump carried it by 4,477 votes against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump beat President-elect Joe Biden there by 4,333 votes this year.