The Monmouth County Republicans were victorious in all the countywide races, easily retaining the sheriff, surrogate, and two Board of Freeholders seats on Tuesday’s General Election ballot.
In the sheriff’s race, incumbent Shaun Golden beat Democrat Jeff Cantor, 159,310 to 125,078.
In the surrogate’s race, incumbent Rosemarie Peters beat Democrat Vincent Solomeno III, 161,102 to 117,850.
For two available Freeholders seats, incumbents Thomas “Tom” Arnone and Serena DiMaso won with 154,933 and 149,251 votes, respectively. They defeated Democrats Matthew Doherty and Sue Fulton, who received 127,195 and 126,270 votes, respectively.
The votes do not include those from two voting districts, one in Freehold Township and another in Spring Lake Heights – where there was a problem at the polls and two machines had yet to be counted by press time Wednesday, the day after the election.
Also, the totals do not include approximately 4,300 provisional, or paper, ballots that were not expected to be counted until the following week, according to the county election offices.
The final tallies are not expected to affect the outcome of the races. Vote totals are unofficial until certified by the state, normally later this month.
Golden, who also is the county GOP chair, attributed his party’s success to having quality candidates and the effort put into the campaign.
“It was hard work, we’ve been running this campaign since January,” Golden said. “A lot of contacts (with voters).”
Arnone echoed that.
“A ton of hard work, a committed team that worked together,” Arnone said.
“We did it the hard way,” Peters said. “We knocked on doors.”
Peters, a veteran of six campaigns for Middletown Township Committee and in her third race for surrogate, said, “This was the hardest-working team I’ve ever run with.”
“I think people in Monmouth County realized our message was a truthful one and Republicans built a beautiful county to live in,” DiMaso said.
“We have so much to be proud of in Monmouth County,” Golden said. “From the parks to schools to public safety.”
This means Republicans continue to hold all countywide seats: sheriff, surrogate, clerk, and five freeholders.
The race focused on spending, with the Republicans pointing to how they have kept taxes generally stable for years and the Democrats questioning how money was applied to the budget to stabilize taxes.
Some controversy arose when the Democrats noted DiMaso had received health benefits through the county despite the freeholders having agreed not to take health benefits. However, DiMaso has fully reimbursed the county for her coverage.
“I’m disappointed in the results,” said Doherty, who is Belmar’s mayor. “We thought we were in a good direction.”
But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “steamrolled” in the county, meaning the Democrats were unable to ride the coattails of their candidate, Hillary Clinton.
“I think we did have a great team,” Doherty said. “Sometimes, the best team doesn’t win.”
“There’s got to be a winner, there’s got to be a loser,” said Cantor, who wished Golden well.
Fulton complimented her opponents for “triumphing,” saying it was “a hard-fought campaign.”
Solomeno could not be reached for comment.
Cantor, Doherty and Fulton were undecided about future regional runs for office.
“It’s too soon to say,” Fulton said.
Cantor said he was focusing on his service as a member of the Marlboro Township Council. He said he did not know if he would run again for election beyond his township council seat. “This election took a lot out of me,” Cantor said.
The Republicans, celebrating on election night at the American Hotel in Freehold, declared victory at about 9:50 p.m. when they came out of the “war room,” where insiders watched the vote tallies, and entered the main ballroom. Even before victory was declared, the atmosphere at the hotel was jubilant among the few hundred Republican revelers.
Among those celebrating the countywide victories were Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Monmouth Beach resident who preceded Golden as sheriff, and Congressman Chris Smith, who was re-elected himself.
“I’m thrilled the voters recognized I worked real hard during my 10 years as surrogate,” Peters said. “It feels good to have your effort realized.”
“Honestly, I could not have won tonight without each and every one of you in this room,” DiMaso said. “You are the reason I stand here victorious.”
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