New Jersey

Democrats find candidate to take on Bramnick

A former Bernardsville councilman who withdrew from a 2021 state assembly bid will face state senator Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) in the 21st district.

Matthew Marino won the Morris County Democratic organizing line at their convention on Saturday. Previous conventions and nominating committees for Somerset, Middlesex and Union counties adjourned with no Senate nominee against Bramnick.

Two years ago, Marino won the Somerset County Democratic convention for an Assembly seat in the 25th District, but pulled out after Morris County Democrats chose Mountain Lakes Deputy Mayor Lauren Barnett and former Wharton adviser Patricia Veres to take on Republican incumbents Brian Bergen (R-Denville) and Aura Dunn (R-Mendham). Morris represented 96% of the district.

The legislative redistricting moved Marino’s hometown of Bernardsville from 25 to 21.

This will be the 28-year-old Marino’s fifth bid for public office.

He lost a Bernardsville Borough Council race in 2016 by 310 votes; his running mate, Christine Zamarra lost by 26 votes. His 2018 council bid was closer: Bernardsville elected one Democrat and one Republican, and Marino finished fourth, just behind his victorious running mate, Jeffrey Hammond.

Following Councilor Thomas O’Dea’s resignation in June 2021, Marino was appointed to fill the vacant seat the following month. He sought O’Dea’s unexpired term in the November general election, but lost to Republican Diane Greenfield by 335 votes, 55%-45%. Republicans also flipped one council seat — Hammond lost re-election — in a year in which GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli won Bernardsville by thirteen percentage points and 416 votes.

His four-month term as city councilor ended once Greenfield was certified as the winner.

It will be up to the other three counties to add Marino to their line as he is unopposed so far.

Marino worked as an English teacher at Gill St. Bernards School before moving into an administrative position at New Jersey City University in 2021. He is now a regulatory and compliance officer at Logicom USA, a technology company communications.

He will join two Democratic Assembly candidates who have won organizing lines in all four counties: Bernards’ Democratic City Speaker Elizabeth Graner, who is making her second run against Republicans Nancy Munoz (R-Somerset) and Michele Matsikoudis (R-New Providence; and Chris Weber, a Springfield councilman.

Bramnick won an open state Senate seat by seven points in 2021, even though Gov. Phil Murphy won the district by two points. A former Assembly Minority Leader, Bramnick has demonstrated his ability to win over swing voters in 2017, 2019 and 2021.


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