The Republican Mayor of Bernardsville – a longtime Republican stronghold in Leonard Lance’s congressional district has switched parties and will seek re-election as a Democrat.
Mayor Kevin Sooy says that “serving and running as a Democrat is consistent with my goals for our town and the issues I want to continue to pursue.”
Sooy was elected mayor in 2014, winning the Republican primary without organization support with 57% over fellow councilman Joseph Rossi. He was unopposed in the general election.
“We are thrilled to have Mayor Sooy join the growing Democratic movement in Somerset County,” said Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer. “He is a committed public servant, and the Democrats welcome Kevin and everyone like him who wants to make a positive difference in Somerset County.”
Democrats will also run Dr. Jeff Hammond, a trauma surgeon, for a seat on the Borough Council. Democrats narrowly won two council seats in 2017, which puts control of local government in Millicent Fenwick’s old hometown in reach for Democrats.
“Mayor Sooy participated in a lengthy, detailed, candid screening process with our members,” said Bernardsville Democratic Municipal Chairman Bob Frawley. “We were all very impressed. We’re happy to have the mayor on the team, and there’s no question in our minds that we share a vision for the future of Bernardsville and a commitment to a substantive, issue-oriented campaign.”
Despite a 46%-21% voter registration edge for the GOP, Democrats have become more competitive in recent years. Hillary Clinton held Donald Trump to a six-point win in 2016, but Lance carried Bernardsville with 61%. Kim Guadagno won it by 16 points.