Home>Highlight>In Salem, Republicans look to expand their majority

Salem County Republican candidates in 2019, left to right: Dale Cross, who was elected county clerk; Scott Griscom, who was re-elected freeholder; and Ed Ramsay, who narrowly lost a freeholder bid.

In Salem, Republicans look to expand their majority

New Jersey’s smallest county hosts one freeholder race this year

By Nikita Biryukov, October 27 2020 4:34 pm

Republicans are looking to expand their freeholder Majority in New Jersey’s smallest county.

Salem County Freeholder Charles Hassler, one of two Democrats remaining on the board in a county with a population about the size of Old Bridge, faces a challenge from Edward Ramsey.

There’s no risk of Democrats gaining control of the board. Republicans have held a 3-2 majority since 2018, and only Hassler’s seat is up for a race this year.

Democratic Surrogate Nicki Burke faces a challenge from Beth McCarthy Patrick.

While the contest between Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) and challenger Amy Kennedy in the second district, not to mention the presidential election, may move some voters, Salem residents are used to splitting the ballot. Put another way, Salem may be the truest two-party county in the state.

Former Atlantic County Freeholder Seth Grossman carried the county by 1,050 votes against Van Drew, then a Democrat, in 2018, and Trump won the district by 4,477 during his 2016 campaign.

But President Barack Obama narrowly won Salem by 350 votes in 2012. Last year, the county elected Democratic Freeholder Lee Ware and Republican Freeholder Scott Griscom.

Control of the county freeholder board has shifted repeatedly over recent years, though some of those movements happened independent of 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.

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