While U.S. Senator Cory Booker beat Republican challenger Jeff Bell by 30,000 votes in Middlesex County on Tuesday night and freeholders maintain a lock on the countywide board, GOP Chairman Sam Thompson celebrated several local-level wins that allowed his party to either take control or even the score with Democrats.
Backlash against President Barack Obama accounted for Thompson to take advantage, sources told PolitickerNJ.
“In South River we appeared to have won and taken 4-2 Republican control,” Thompson said. “In Milltown we won two seats, and now have 4-2 Republican control. In Middlesex Borough we won one last year and this year won two, to lock up the council 3-3. In South Plainfield we increased control to 5-1. In East Brunswick we retained 3-2 control. All in all it was a good night for the future.”
Thompson acknowledged a loss in Sayreville.
“We had hoped to pick up, but didn’t,” the chairman said. “That is a 4-1 Democrat council with a Republican mayor.
“I see it as a good two year-run,” he added. “Last year [with Gov. Chris Christie at the top of the ticket] we elected 19 Republicans in the county, the most since the 1990s. This year we made good progress, building from ground up.”
Thompson wouldn’t speculate on what kind of impact the South Plainfield outcome will have on next year’s races in the 15th District, but local campaign manager Bob Jones of South Plainfield, whose candidates bumped off Chrissy Buteas, eyes the district cautiously.
Councilman Rob Bencivenga – who ran unsuccessfully for an assembly seat in 2013 – is up for re-eelction next year. It’s doubtful that he would want to forgo his council seat to take a crack at incumbent Assembly people Pat Diegnan and Nancy Pinkin without Christie at the top of the ticket.
Jones pointed out too that Spotswood’s removal and the addition of Highland Park from the district in 2011 makes it hard.
“Highland Park and Edison – they are the issue,” Jones said.