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Somerset freeholder candidate Doug Singleterry.

Democrats projected to win full control in Somerset

By Nikita Biryukov, November 04 2020 1:14 am

Somerset County Freeholders Brian Levine and Brian Gallagher are projected to lose their re-election bids against North Plainfield Councilman Doug Singleterry and former Hillsborough Councilman Paul Drake, bringing the county under complete Democratic control just two years after Democrats began chipping away at a 5-0 GOP majority there.

Drake has 75,191 votes, and Singleterry has 75,144. Levine and Gallagher are far behind, with 59,720 and 59,492 votes, respectively.

Attorney Tina Jalloh leads Republican Surrogate Frank Bruno, the only member of his party to still hold a constitutional officer post in Somerset, and 56%-44%, a 16,169-vote margin,

She is expected to win the seat.

Though the result may have been shocking in 2017, when Democrat Steve Peter won his race for Somerset Clerk, Democrats have since made significant gains in the county.

Democratic Freeholders Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy won posts on the board in 2018 amid a national wave that saw Democrats retake the House.

The next year, the county elected Melonie Marano won a seat on the freeholder board, handing Democrats the majority, and Democrat Darrin Russo won the sheriff’s post.

Somerset has 24,437 more Democrats than Republicans. That advantage was just 15,629 when Democrats began chipping away at the Republican 5-0 freeholder majority in 2018.

Now, that majority has flipped. Republicans will have a chance to win back two Democratic seats next year, but they won’t have a shot at the majority until at least 2022.

Somerset County election officials have counted 142,172 of the 159,752 ballots they received by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The final tally won’t be known for days. Mail-in ballots postmarked by election day will be counted so long as they reach election officials by Nov. 10.

Provisional ballots, which are expected to favor Republicans, won’t be counted until Nov. 11, and voters who submit deficient ballots have until Nov. 18 to cure them. The tally also excludes mail-in ballots received after 6 p.m.

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