Political newcomer Ernesto Cullari defeated Anna Little for the Monmouth County GOP endorsement for Congress from New Jersey’s 6th district.
By a margin described as “reasonably close” the Monmouth GOP nominating committee selected Cullari, an Asbury Park businessman and conservative columnist for the triCityNews over Little, the former Freeholder, former Mayor of Highlands and the 2010 nominee for Congress against Frank Pallone. Little defeated Diane Gooch, owner of the Two River Times and Monmouth GOP Vice Chair in the 2010 primary.
The tally was taken by voice vote followed by a show of hands. Upon announcing Cullari the winner, Chairman Joe Oxley asked for and received a unanimous nomination by acclamation for Cullari.
The race for the nomination now heads back to Middlesex County which will hold a convention on March 24. The Middlesex GOP screening committee endorsed Little by 27-3 earlier this week. By rule, she will be the recommended candidate. However, the convention voters are not bound by the screening committee’s recommendation.
In 2010, the Middlesex GOP screening committee selected then Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre by just less than the 2/3 margin that would have given Halfacre the formal recommendation of the committee. Halfacre lost the convention endorsement to Scott Sipprelle after then incoming County Chairman Sam Thompson interupted Halfacre’s speech to support Sipprelle.
It is rare, but not unprecedented, that the Monmouth and Middlesex GOPs would endorse different candidates for the same office. In the 2005 legislative primary, Middlesex County endorsed Assemblyman Joe Azzolina for reelection while Freeholder Amy Handlin was endorsed for Assembly by the Monmouth GOP.