Democrats turn to Komondy to challenge Kean in LD 21: ‘I get up every day at 5 in the morning’

MANVILLE – Michael Komondy stepped forward in the VFW hall here and said he’s running against state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-21).

“I get up every day at 5 in the morning,” the Bernards Township resident told “I think most people work so hard they don’t have time to focus on politics, and I think politicians have forgotten working people. All they think about is getting re-elected. My grandfather came from Hungary with the shirt on his back. I came from humble beginnings in the Bronx and I’m here because it’s time to give back.”

Komondy has run a Dunkin Donuts franchise for 30 years.

He’s a volunteer firefighter and proud to be a small-business owner. He ran unsuccessfully for local office in his hometown.

His candidacy wasn’t even 12 hours old.

“I had my first meeting this morning, that’s how new this is,” he said, regarding his challenge of Kean.

He sat down with veteran Union County Democratic Party Chairwoman Charlotte DeFilippo, in fact.

“I was delighted at his enthusiasm and his grasp of the issues and I think he is a terrific guy,” DeFilippo told “He will be a great representative for the district.”

Behind Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer, the Somerset County Democratic Committee nominated him as their candidate in the 21st District.

The nomination lands in the middle of an especially contentious piece of roughhousing between Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Kean .

Sweeney’s enraged that Kean personally recruited a candidate to run against him – Niki Trunk – a former Comptroller’s Office chief.

“I don’t know anything about that fight,” Komondy said. “All I know about is the fight people are going through every day.”

A source near Kean said the Senate minority leader’s district became more Republican post-redistricting – ironically with the addition of Bernards Township. The source also noted then-Long Hill Mayor Gena Genovese’s ultimate failure to make a real contest out of LD 21 in 2007, at a time when there was deep Bush hatred and Kean was perceived to be mortally wounded a year after his unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate.

Democrats turn to Komondy to challenge Kean in LD 21: ‘I get up every day at 5 in the morning’