Morris County Democrat have elected former Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano to serve as their new Democratic State Committeeman in a special election held on Sunday to replace Philip R. Sellinger.
Soriano defeated T.J. McCourt by a 58%-38% margin, with 4% going to former Boonton Alderman James Plaisted. Soriano received 220 votes, followed by 145 for McCourt and 14 for Plaisted.
Sellinger resigned his seat in December after the U.S. Senate confirmed him as the new U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.
Soriano lost his bid for a second term in November, losing a rematch with former Republican Mayor James Barbiero by 794 votes. McCourt, making his second bid for office, lost to a slate of incumbent Republican county commissioners by over 27,000 votes.
Plaisted, 74, was elected alderman in Boonton in 2016 but lost his seat after one term by six votes. A former assistant U.S. Attorney, Plaisted ran for the State Assembly for an Essex County seat in 1987 but lost to incumbents John V. Kelly (R-Nutley) and Marion Crecco (R-Bloomfield) by over 13,000 votes.
The election came under the backdrop of a local party controversy over the selection of A.J. Oliver, a pro-life activist, as a candidate for county commissioner. Morristown Democrats have called for Oliver’s resignation as their municipal chairman.
Morris County has six state committee seats and under state law, three are held by men and three by women. That means Sellinger’s replacement must be a man, although some activists have begun to question that mandate.
The winner will serve the remaining 3 1/2 years of Sellinger’s term.
Sellinger had been the top vote-getter in the June primary, outpolling attorney Scott Carlson by 44 votes and Chatham Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz by 324.