Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger will be running for office again in 2019. He will either seek his own full term on the Freeholder Board, having been elected to complete Assemblywoman Serena Dimaso’s term last month, or he will seek the Assembly seat being vacated by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Middletown).
When the popular Middletown leader was selected by the Monmouth GOP County Committee members last February to replace DiMaso on the Freeholder Board, most assumed Scharfenberger would seek his own full term in 2019. But Handlin’s October surprise announcement that she will not seek a seventh term representing the 13th legislative district created a rare, if poorly timed, opportunity.
Scharfenberger told MMM that he will not make a decision regarding which office he’ll seek next year until well after he his ceremonial swearing in as freeholder at the County Reorganization Meeting on January 3. Nominating petitions for the June 4 primary are not due until April 1. The GOP nominating convention will be in February or March.
There is little competitive pressure on Scharfenberger to make a decision. The Assembly seat is widely considered Middletown’s seat in the legislature. Since the State Constitutional Convention in 1966 created legislative districts, a Middletown resident has held a seat in the Assembly for all but two years. With over 90 County Committee seats, the Middletown GOP can dominate a nominating convention in the 13th if their committee members stick together in backing one of their own. Other potential Middletown Republican contenders…Mayor Kevin Settembrino, Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore, Monmouth County Tax Commissioner Steve Massell and former Township Committeewoman Stephanie Murray …are not likely to challenge Scharfenberger.
Whoever the Republicans nominate to replace Handlin will run with DiMaso (of Holmdel) who has declared she is seeking a second term in the Assembly.
As for Democrat challengers, Josh Welle of Rumson and Arlington, VA, told NewJerseyGlobe that he would decide by mid-January if he would seek the Dem nomination for Assembly in LD 13.
Larry Luttrell of Holmdel, who lost to Scharfenberger last November and lost to DiMaso 2013 race for freeholder, told MMM that he would only consider running for dog catcher in 2019.
Allison Tucker Friedman, a Monmouth County Public Defender and a member on the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School Board, has been mentioned by prominent Democrats as a potential candidate for Assembly in LD 13. Friedman ran for Assembly against Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon in 2013