In ’09, Freeholder control at stake in four counties

Majority control of the Board of Chosen Freeholders could flip in four of New Jersey’s 21 counties in November 2009: Atlantic, Burlington, Monmouth and Salem.

In Burlington, Republicans currently have a 3-2 majority after Democrats won two seats last month – their first wins in Freeholder races in two decades. Two veteran Republican Freeholders are up for re-election in 2009: Bill Haines and Jim Wujcik. Democrats need to beat one of the two incumbents to win control.

In Monmouth County, Democrats won their first majority since 1986 when Amy Mallet’s victory in a recount gave them 3-2 control. Democrat Barbara McMorrow is expected to seek re-election to a second term, and Republicans can regain control if they can unseat her next year.

In Salem County, Democrats have a 5-2 majority after Republicans picked up the open seat of retiring Democratic Freeholder Charles Sullivan, who passed away last Tuesday after a long illness. Two Democratic incumbents, Beth Timberman and Jeffrey Hogan, are up in 2009. Republicans would need to win both seats to take control.

In Atlantic County, where Democrats picked up a Freeholder seat in the last election (and lost a five-term Sheriff), Republicans have a 6-3 majority. Three Republicans are up next year: At-Large Freeholder Frank Giordano, who was elected as a Democrat in 2006 (he defeated incumbent Frank Finnerty) and then switched parties last year; District 2 Freeholder Thomas Russo, and District 5 Freeholder James Curcio. Democrats would have to oust two of the three GOP incumbents to take control.

Democrats hold all Freeholder seats in Bergen, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties. Republicans occupy all Freeholder seats in Cape May, Hunterdon, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.

There are no Freeholder races in Essex and Hudson, where Democrats hold 9-0 majorities. In ’09, Freeholder control at stake in four counties