Somerset Democrats retain two county commissioner seats

Democrat Sara Sooy has now taken a 678-vote lead over Republican Michael Kirsh and appears to have been re-elected to the Somerset County Commissioners Council.

Kirsh, a Bridgewater town councilor who edged out Sooy last week, now has a seemingly impractical path to victory. About 200 ballots remain uncounted. It is not known when this will happen – the offices of the Somerset County Electoral Council closed before 5 p.m.

There are also some outstanding remedy letters to correct technical flaws in the mail ballots which have until Saturday to be returned. Somerset County Election Board Administrator Jerry L. Midgette is among the least transparent election officials in the state and has not released the number.

Sooy’s running mate, Commissioner Shanel Robinson, is the top voter with 54,889 votes, followed by Sooy (54,285), Kirsh (53,607) and Amber Murad, a member of the Watching School Board (52,386).

In the race for governor, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has 4,115 votes ahead, 51.4% to 47.8%, over Somerset County’s favorite son, Jack Ciattarelli, a former GOP assembly member from Hillsborough.

Locally, Republicans overturned ten seats in seven cities.

The GOP regained the majority of the councils in Watchung and Bound Brook, defeated the only Democratic adviser in Hillsborough and Bernards, and won seats in Raritan and Manville.

In Bernardsville, Al Ribeiro, a former political consultant who worked on John McCain’s presidential campaign, toppled a seat on the Democratic borough council. Now an executive at Pfizer, Ribeiro worked for Jamestown Associates, a political consulting firm, from 2002 to 2005 and as New Hampshire political director for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2008. He then joined the McCain campaign. and was Director of the State of Michigan and Deputy Regional Campaign Director for the Great Lakes region.

Robinson and Sooy dethroned Republican incumbents Mark Caliguire and Patrick Scaglione in the 2018 free race, giving the Democrats their first wins since Michael Ceponis was elected in 1979.

The Democrats won one more seat in 2019, giving them their first majority since Lyndon Johnson was president in 1965, and two more in 2020.

In 2020, the last two Republican freeholders, Brian Gallagher and Brian Levine, lost their seats.

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