Emotions ran high Thursday as the Somerset County Republicans endorsed slates of candidates, including those for the newly realigned state districts.
More than 250 people packed the for the party’s nominating convention to voice support for the party.
As a result of the new alignment, Somerset County’s three assembly districts have been broken down into six.
“Now we have six senators and 12 assembly people, but only five freeholders,” said Freeholder Director Bob Zaborowski, who was nominated for a fifth term on the freeholder board. “Somerset County is still Somerset County.”
“There are opportunities for Somerset County and opportunities for our towns,” Republican Chairman Al Gaburo said of the changes. “We are excited about welcoming some new friends to Somerset County. But the best news of all is that Somerset County stays a Republican county.”
Current District 16 Assemblywoman Denise Coyle from Bernards, who found her town shifted to District 21 during the realignment, declared, between tears, “I am running in the 16th and I’m going to beat them.”
A petition to put her name on the ballot in District 16 was circulated. Coyle confirmed that she will be moving and expects to find an apartment in the district prior to Monday’s filing deadline.
“I feel like I have so much more work to do,” she said, calling the new district lineup a “volcanic disruption” designed to have county voters “lose our voice in Trenton.”
“I can count on my team and I can count on you,” she told the crowd to a standing ovation.
A tearful State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Branchburg), who was nominated for another term, told representatives of the towns that have been removed from the 16th district, “It has been an honor and privilege to represent you for 23 years.”
Assemblyman Peter Biondi (R-Hillsborough) accepted the party’s nomination for an eighth term. He also acknowledged the towns no longer in the 16th district.
“You will have great representation and we will be looking over their shoulders," he said. "We’re not going to forget about the Hills.”
Incumbent Peter Palmer was nominated for another term on the county freeholder board.
“I believe we do the right things and we do them well," he said. "Most importantly, we work closely with all 21 of our municipalities.”
Palmer cited living within the 2 percent cap, and celebrating and engaging the county’s increasing diversity as the two major challenges to be faced in coming years.
Party members also officially nominated the incumbents from the 23rd district (which now includes Bridgewater), namely Senator Mike Doherty, Assemblymen John Di Maio and Eric Peterson, as well as the 21st district (which now includes Bernards and Warren), namely Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz.
“We are thrilled, excited and greatly honored to receive the support of the Somerset County organization," Doherty said. "We will all do our best to serve all of the residents of Somerset County. We will stand up for your interests and advance the Republican Party in Somerset County.”