School board member Jill DeCaro won a special election for Old Bridge Township Council in a Ward 4 Special Election, defeating Republican Mark Razzoli in a big victory for New Jersey Democrats and the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.
DeCaro beat Razzoli, by 145 votes, 838-693 (54.7% to 45.3%). Voter turnout was 19%.
DeCaro was fueled by a massive victory on the mail-in ballots, 477-198, about 71%. Razzoli won the voting machine, 495-361.
Republicans hold a 7-2 majority on the City Council.
In the November 2021 election, DeCaro had ousted Razzoli, who was the incumbent, by 11 votes, but a Superior Court judge invalidated the election after 27 voters received the wrong ballot and 17 of them have voted.
His win prevents Republicans from sweeping three cities Joe Biden won in 2020. The GOP had previously won special elections in Maywood and South Toms River after final election results ended in a tie.
Last year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli won 4th Ward, not counting some residents of Cymbeline Drive, with 66 percent and a margin of 570 votes.
Absentee ballots postmarked before 8pm tonight will be counted as long as they reach the Middlesex County Board of Elections at the close of business on Monday. There are at least 43 provisional ballots that will not be counted until next week.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey found the state Division of Elections liable for the 2021 election incident, saying the statewide voter database failed to properly followed the boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map, putting voters in odd-numbered houses on one side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2 and even-numbered houses on the other side of Cymbeline Drive residing in Ward 4.
Republicans won the February 15 election for a seat on Maywood Borough Council. The November election had resulted in a tie, and the special election overturned a Democratic GOP seat. School board member Danyel Cicarelli ousted Democratic councilor Katherine Benin by 41 votes.
South Toms River voters also turned Republican in a March 15 replay to decide the fate of a November 2020 race that ended in a tie. Protracted court battles and an appeals court that seemed seemingly in no rush meant that seat went unfilled for more than a year.
The winner at South River was Republican Sandford Ross, who was previously the incumbent.
Razzoli had been elected as a Democrat, served as Democratic City Chairman, and sought his party’s nomination for mayor in 2019. After the primary, Razzoli switched to Republicans and ran against Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th District.
Late last year, Razzoli entered the race to challenge State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) in the Republican primary, but later pulled out.
2021 was Razzoli’s first municipal campaign under his new party designation.
DeCaro’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to hear the case after Appeals Court Judge Carmen Messano agreed with McCloskey that some Cymbeline Drive residents had been registered in the wrong neighborhood for several years. But the Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Middlesex County officials told the New Jersey Globe last week that they could ask the state to pay the costs associated with the re-election since the fault was theirs and not the county clerk.
Snap Election Happened as National Biden Jobs Endorsements Remain Under Water – a The Monmouth University poll released last week had Biden’s endorsements at 40%-48% nationally – and a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll had Governor Phil Murphy’s favors upside down for the first times since taking office in 2018: 33%-38% . The same poll shows that 52% of New Jersey residents think the state is on the wrong track.