Dover Ward 3 Alderman Edward Correa has lost to challenger Karol Ruiz by 54 votes, 58-42%, in the marquis race of an ongoing Democratic civil war in Dover.
Despite Correa being the incumbent, Ruiz had the organizational line. The decision to deny the line to Correa, the Democratic municipal chairman, contributed to the decision by some party leaders to seek the resignation of Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson in April.
The new county chair, Amalia Duarte, has pointedly stayed out of the Dover race. So has Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), who headed the organization ticket.
Both candidates work for Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration. Correa runs a motor vehicles agency and Ruiz is a deputy state public defender.
Alderman Carlos Valencia, a Correa ally, trails former Councilman Marcos Tapia-Aguilar, Sr. in Ward 4 by 27 votes, 58-42%. Tapia-Aguilar lost lost his bid for re-election in the 2021 Democratic primary by six votes after Murphy declined to endorse him because of his pro-life position. The other three incumbents backed by Murphy won.
In Ward 1, incumbent Sandra Milena Wittner, who is running on the line, leads Connie Duran-Sanchez by 98 votes, 75-25%.
The one victory for Correa’s slate seems to have come in Ward 2, where incumbent Humberto Quinones trails his Correa-backed challenger, Geovani Estacio-Carrillo, by 22 votes, 54-46%,
In 2018, Correa led an insurgent Dover First slate that ousted allies of then-Mayor James Dodd, who was seen as hostile to the town’s Hispanic majority. Dodd himself was ousted a year later by Alderwoman Carolyn Blackman, the town’s first Black mayor, and Correa was chosen to replace her as alderman for the 3rd Ward. Both campaigns were supported by Robinson and the Morris County Democratic organization.
“Having a ‘D’ next to one’s name is not enough, particularly in one of our county’s most Democratic towns,” Robinson said in a March email. “It has become obvious and troubling that Alderman Correa has lost the support of the movement he helped build and has lost the support of the community.”