Middlesex Republicans endorse Pennacchio for Senate, Cumberland County punts

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio won the Middlesex County Republican convention today, getting 121 votes to rival Murray Sabrin’s 45.

Candidate Andy Unanue, who remains on vacation in Colorado, did not send a representative to participate in the convention. His name was not on the county committee’s ballots. Nor was John Crowley, who was vacationing out of the country until he returned yesterday and is expected to enter the race as early as Monday.

Pennacchio has already won the party line in Bergen, Passaic, Hunterdon and Union counties.

“Middlesex is a huge part of that puzzle,” said Pennacchio, who’s focused his campaign on Democratic-leaning counties. “You start coloring all the Pennacchio counties and you’ll see that Joe Pennacchio has terrific people – terrific support behind him.”

Pennacchio thanked Middlesex Republican Chairman Joe Leo for keeping the process open to anyone who wanted to participate.

Sabrin said that he would have preferred the format be that of an open debate, as it was in Gloucester County two weeks ago, where he beat Pennacchio to win the county line. His spokesman, George Ajjan, who spent the morning in Cumberland County, said that the showing Sabrin got was promising.

“It shows that even among insiders there are a sizable percentage who agree with Murray that the establishment is broken and that we need new leadership,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Cumberland County Republican Party, which also held a convention today, decided to defer its endorsement for a Senate candidate until members have a better idea of exactly who’s running. They also formally elected a new county chairman: Doug Sorantino.

“All I want is a fair shot, and it looks like Cumberland is giving us a fair shot,” said Pennacchio, who was represented there by campaign worker Steve Kush.

Middlesex Republicans endorse Pennacchio for Senate, Cumberland County punts