HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The political landscape in central New Jersey is undergoing some changes that involve some prominent lawmakers with deep roots in the township.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a longtime resident, is seeking the GOP nomination to become the state’s next governor. He formally launched his campaign for the June 6 GOP primary on Jan. 19 with a fund raising reception at the Somerville Elks in Bridgewater.
Win or lose, Ciattarelli will give up his Assembly seat at the end of his term this year.
That also means the political future of Hillsborough Township Committeeman Doug Tomson may hinge on the outcome of the general election.
Ciattarelli told supporters last week that he intends to win the Primary and is confident he’ll win the General Election in November.
The county GOP announced last Wednesday that Somerset County Freeholder and former Montgomery Mayor Mark Caliguire will run for Ciattarelli’s seat in the GOP Primary; his running mate for the other 16th District Assembly seat is Donna Simon, who served alongside Ciattarelli for four years before losing her reelection bid in November, 2015, hampered by low voter turnout; just 21 percent of those registered voted in the election. She lost by 70 votes to Democrat Andrew Zwicker, who is expected to seek reelection in November, setting up a rematch of the 2015 race.
Running for the state Senate in the 16th district is the Republican incumbent and longtime Trenton lawmaker Christopher “Kip” Bateman.
The 16th District includes 14 towns in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Mercer counties.
Caliguire was first elected to the Montgomery Township Committee in 2003, and served as mayor. He was tapped to fill Ciattarelli’s seat as a county freeholder in December, 2011 after Ciattarelli resigned to fill out the final six weeks of longtime Assemblyman Pete Biondi’s seat, who died two days after winning re-election. He then began serving his own elected term in January, 2012.
“I am not planning to resign my seat on the freeholder board,” Caliguire said. “My plan is to win, and I would stay on until elected. I don’t believe in dual office holding,” he added. “Should I be fortunate enough to win, I would resign my seat on the freeholder board.”
An opening will occur on the Somerset County Board of Freeholders should Caliguire win his Assembly race and that’s where Tomson fits into the overall picture.
His name is mentioned prominently by various GOP sources as the likely pick to succeed Caliguire.
Tomson, 36, is in his second three-year term on the Township Committee, and expects to run for reelection in November.
“My main focus is getting reelected in Hillsborough in November. My seat is up, along with Gloria McCauley,” he said. “We haven’t formally announced anything yet, but we will be both seeking our party’s nomination.
“Here is what I will say - if given the opportunity, I would really like to screen for the freeholder board,” Tomson added. “I love serving the citizens of Hillsborough, but having to represent Hillsborough and the rest of Somerset County at that level would mean a lot to me.
“I’m very excited to see that Mark is running; he’s been a great committeeman, a great mayor of Montgomery, and a great freeholder for Somerset County,” Tomson continued. “He’s a great addition to the GOP ticket for the 16th District."
A lifelong resident of Hillsborough, Tomson is married with two young children and is Government Affairs Director for the New Jersey Association of REALTORS.