The third-step in the four-part contest to nominate Republican legislative candidates in the 23rd district will be a decision by Hunterdon County Republicans to pick a second Assembly candidate to run on their organization line in the June primary. Their ticket already includes newly-elected State Sen. Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) and Assemblyman-elect John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown). The other Assembly candidate will be from Hunterdon.
The leading candidates for the one seat are the two Hunterdon Freeholders who lost to DiMaio in yesterday's special election convention: Erik Peterson and Matthew Holt. On the first ballot, Peterson beat Holt 104-56. These numbers might indicate an advantage for Peterson.
Hunterdon GOP Chairman Henry Kuhl and the Republican screening committee must pick a candidate to replace Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington), who says he's leaving the Assembly to challenge Karrow in the Republican State Senate primary. Even if Doherty decides to drop his Senate bid, it appears that the door is closed to being included on the organization line for a fifth term in the State Assembly.
The main thing to watch over the next few weeks is to see if Doherty stays in the Senate race – an uphill fight, now that his friend and ally, DiMaio, has now endorsed Karrow and will run on her ticket, and that his friend and ally, Warren County GOP Chairman Douglas Steinhardt, has agreed to back the Kuhl slate. If Doherty continues, he might recruit two Assembly candidates to run with him.
Holt, the grandson of the late U.S. Senator Clifford Case, is up for re-election to the Board of Freeholders this year. Unless he's willing to give up his Freeholder seat, Holt likely won't run for the Assembly unless Kuhl gives him the line.