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Shanel Robinson. (Photo: Somerset County Democrats.)

Democrats win freeholder seats in Somerset

By Nikita Biryukov, November 06 2018 10:32 pm

Democratic freeholder candidates in Somerset County defeated Republican incumbents Tuesday night, securing seats their party hasn’t won since Michael Ceponis beat a Republican in 1979.

Buoyed by dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump, Sara Sooy and Shanel Robinson defeated Republican incumbents with 57,741 and 59,255 votes, or 26% and 27%, respectively.

Freeholder Mark Caliguire  got 51,720 votes, about 23%, and Patrick Scaglione secured 52,280 votes, roughly 24%.

Republicans have long held control over Somerset, though the first signs of Democrats’ growing fortunes in the county came last year when Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter secured a 128-vote victory over his Republican opponent.

Though voters in the county have previously — and consistently — split the ballot to vote in Republican freeholders, the mood of the electorate and Democratic calls for constituents to vote straight down the ballot upended that tradition.

Republicans still maintain a 3-2 majority on the Board of Chosen Freeholders, but the cracks appear to be growing.

Democrats will have their chance to flip the board next year, when Freeholder Pat Walsh’s seat comes up for election.

This story has been updated with vote totals. A previous version of this article said Freeholder Pat Walsh lost reelection. She wasn’t on the ballot. Freeholder Patrick Scaglione was, and he was not reelected.

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