Former Republican state Sen. Bill Schluter wants to see his old seat kept in moderate Republican hands, and he thinks Hunterdon County Freeholder Matt Holt is the man to do it.
Schluter, 81 is actively working to help Holt, the grandson of former U.S. Sen. Clifford P. Case, run for the 23rd District state Senate seat.
“I’m definitely in the camp of Matt Holt. I think he’s an outstanding individual and would make a good state senator. I’d like to retain the district as a Republican district, and I think he could do that,” said Schluter.
Holt has formed an exploratory committee, but yesterday told PolitickerNJ that he would not make a formal announcement until after Thanksgiving.
True, the 23rd District is drawn to be safely Republican, but, Schluter said, “stranger things have happened.”
Schulter preceded state Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Flemington). His home town, Pennington, was redistricted in 2001, which would have forced him into a race with fellow incumbent Shirley Turner (D-Trenton). Instead, he ran unsuccessfully for governor as an independent.
Schluter’s first stint in the legislature began in 1967 and ended in 1973, when he was swept out by the the anti-Republican Watergate wave.
Schluter is pro-life, but said that the party needs to represent socially moderate values in order to remain competitive He was turned off by Doherty’s skepticism on global warming, his responses to questions about his belief in evolution and his endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) for president. While Karrow is more moderate, Schluter said that Holt has a better environmental record.
While Schluter lives in Mercer County, which is no longer part of the district, he maintains a law office in Hunterdon County and is considered by many to be a staple of the political scene there.
“As a matter of fact when (Hunterdon County Republican Chairman) Henry Kuhl said this seat has been a Hunterdon County seat for the last 26 years, that included me,” said Schluter. “Even though Henry Kuhl and I have crossed swords, he said that without thinking where I actually live.”
Doherty responded that endorsements won’t help Holt against his own popularity with the district’s conservative voters.
“Look at the results in ’01 and ’05 when other people thinking about getting in this race ran against me,’ said Doherty. “I beat them not only in my own county in Warren, but I beat them in Hutnerdon even when they had the line position…. There are other people running in this race who need to realize that the same forces I’ve activated, particularly in ‘01 and ‘05 that allowed me to have very large victories, are already being activated as we speak today.”