Little victory viewed as major loss for Niemann

The results of a Special Election Convention last Saturday further threaten the re-election prospects of Monmouth County Republican Chairman Frederick Niemann, who backed the losing candidate to replace Amy Handlin on the Board of Freeholders. Anna Little, a Highlands Borough Councilwoman, won a second ballot victory over Howell Mayor Joseph DiBella, who had Niemann’s tacit support and considerable help from his key supporters. Some party leaders say that Little’s victory as very much an anti-Niemann vote. Niemann was elected Chairman in 2004, ousting the outspoken and often controversial William Dowd, who had held the post for seventeen years. This was the second time in two years that a Niemann-backed Freeholder candidate lost a party convention. Monmouth has become increasingly competitive at the county level, and in 2005 the Democratic Freeholder candidate lost by just 1,792; many pundits believe the Democrats would have won if a Green Party candidate endorsed by the Asbury Park Press had not won 18,698 votes. Republicans expect two longtime officeholders to announce their retirements within the next few weeks: Freeholder Theodore Narozanick and Surrogate Marie Muhler. That will trigger another heated convention for the two posts. Several of the candidates who ran unsuccessfully on Saturday would likely compete for Narozanick’s seat (and technically, the newly-elected Little could receive opposition for party support to run in a November Special Election for Handlin’s unexpired term), but additional candidates could emerge as a result of the recent contest. Longtime Middletown Committeewoman (and former Mayor) Rosemarie Peters and Little Silver Councilman Richard DeNoia both want to run for Surrogate. The 84-year-old Narozanick was an Englishtown Councilman from 1946 to 1954, Mayor from 1954 to 1962, Monmouth County Administrator from 1958 to 1985, and Freeholder since 1986. Muhler served as a Marlboro Councilwoman before winning a State Assembly seat in 1975 (she defeated Democratic incumbent Morton Salkind, still politicall active as a North Jersey developer). She nearly won election to Congress in 1980, winning 49% of the vote against eight-term incumbent James Howard, and became Surrogate in 1991. Trivia: Who was the last Republican to lose a race for county office in Monmouth? That would be Fred Niemann, who lost his bid for Surrogate in 1986. Niemann also lost an ’04 bid for Republican County Committee in his own district in Wall.

Little victory viewed as major loss for Niemann