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Friday, June 21, 2024


Contested GOP Primary in Upper, and for Senate; Dems Face Off in Races for Congress

Contested GOP Primary in Upper, and for Senate; Dems Face Off in Races for Congress

By Vince Conti

A local polling place.
local polling place stock photo election.jpeg
File Photo
A local polling place.

Cape May County will see one contested Republican primary election among the municipal races on Tuesday, June 4 — in Upper Township — as well as a contest for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in which a Cape May businessman is one of the candidates.

On the Democratic side, three candidates are vying for the nomination to run for Sen. Robert Menendez’s Senate seat, while four contestants are seeking the opportunity to oppose Rep. Jeff Van Drew for his House seat. There are no contested Democratic races for municipal offices.

Cape May County has seven partisan municipalities, towns in which candidates run with party labels; the county government itself is also partisan.

The Board of County Commissioners has one seat open this year, and partisan offices are open in Upper, Dennis, Middle and Lower townships, as well as in North Wildwood City, Stone Harbor and Woodbine.

Republican Ballot

In all but one case, candidates who have the support of the County Regular Republican Committee are running without opposition in the Republican primary.

The exception is Upper Township, where incumbent Mayor John “Jay” Newman and Deputy Mayor Kimberly Hayes did not win the endorsement of the township Republican committee, forcing them into a primary fight June 4. The local Republican committee endorsed cousins Zachary and Samuel Palombo over the incumbents.

Zachary Palombo is the son of longtime township Mayor Rich Palombo, who is the uncle of Samuel Palombo. Zachary Palombo is the shared superintendent of the Cape May City and West Cape May school districts. Samuel Palombo is a pharmaceutical sales manager.

Newman served four terms on the Township Committee, winning the last of those four elections in 2011. He left politics and returned in 2021 when Rich Palombo decided not to seek another term. He also serves as the chief of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company.

His running mate, Hayes, gained her seat on the committee running with Newman in 2021.

At the annual reorganization meeting, the five-member township committee selects from its members someone to serve as mayor and deputy mayor. Newman is completing his first one-year term as mayor.

At the county level, current Commissioner Director Leonard Desiderio is running for another term unopposed in the Republican primary.

Former President Donald Trump and Van Drew are unopposed on the national ticket in the Republican primary.

Four candidates are vying to be the Republican who will challenge for Menendez’s Senate seat. The local candidate is Curtis Bashaw, known for his hospitality company, Cape Resorts, in Cape May City. Bashaw has the endorsement of the county Republican organization.

The other challengers for the GOP nomination are Mendham Township Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, who has received Trump’s endorsement; Albert Harshaw, running under the banner For the People, and Justin Murphy, with the banner American Conservative Republican.

Democratic Ballot

The Democrats are seeking only one municipal seat, for a First Ward City Council post in North Wildwood. Maria G. Matera is running unopposed in the primary.

Democrats will select one nominee from among three candidates challenging for Menendez’s seat. The front-runner is considered to be Rep. Andy Kim of the Third District; he will face off with Patricia Campos-Medina, a labor leader who if successful would be the first Latina New Jersey voters send to Congress, and Newark activist Lawrence Hamm, who is pushing a strong progressive agenda.

Four Democrats are seeking the opportunity to run against Van Drew in November.

Tim Alexander, seen as the front-runner, is seeking a second shot at Van Drew after losing to him in 2022, when Van Drew garnered nearly 60% of the vote.

South Jersey businessman Joe Salerno has the endorsement of Patricia O’Connor, who ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Cape May County Board of County Commissioners.

Political activist and engineer Carolyn Rush is again seeking a spot on the November ballot after losing to Alexander in the 2022 primary.

Community activist Rodney A. Dean Sr. rounds out the Democratic candidates list, running under the slogan We Want Justice, Justice Is Ours.

As of Thursday, May 23, election officials statewide report receiving 221,148 mail-in ballots so far.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at


Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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