Yesterday, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno announced endorsements for her gubernatorial campaign from 100 state, county, local and Republican Party officials across New Jersey. It included many heavy hitters, including four state senators, seven state Assembly members and a ton of county officials and municipal chairs.
But perhaps the most interesting name was one that wasn’t on it—State Assemblywoman Amy Handlin.
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin’s absence is all the more striking because she is locked in a battle to fill the Senate seat being vacated by beloved Monmouth county stalwart Joe Kyrillos, whose decision not to run for re-election was first reported by PolitickerNJ. Her opponent in that race is her fellow District 13 Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who did endorse. Guadagno is from Monmouth County and has landed Senators Beck, Thompson and Singer (all represent Monmouth) plus Assemblymen Clifton, Dancer (also represent Monmouth), all five Monmouth Freeholders, the State Committee members, and the County Chairman/Sheriff. So that means virtually all of Monmouth has lined up behind its favorite daughter. But not Handlin.
It’s safe to wonder whether this is a signal that O’Scanlon will get the Senate seat. Or perhaps, as at least one experienced Republican operative wondered to PolitickerNJ, “Maybe Handlin is withholding a gubernatorial endorsement to preserve the option of running with Jack Ciattarelli?”
Either way, it’s an intriguing story line, as things are never dull in Monmouth County. And here’s another small but fun fact. In March 2016, after Christie endorsed Trump, Amy Handlin was among the small handful of Republican legislators who “sort-of” said that Christie should resign. Had he done so, Guadagno would have been the Governor. Amy Handlin had to have known that.