Big change in NJ GOP — Senator will switch parties
🔺 NJ GOP pushes out on of their most conservative members
🔵 Sen. Samuel Thompson has decided to switch parties
🔺 Switch makes efforts to retake the senate more difficult for Republicans
Efforts by Republicans to retake the New Jersey Senate just got harder with a long-serving senator poised to switch parties.
Samuel Thompson, R-Middlesex, told NewJerseyGlobe.com, "I feel my party leadership has abandoned me."
Thompson is 87 years old, and GOP leaders have been not so subtly trying to push him out and get him to retire. He has repeatedly refused, insisting he remains fit to serve both mentally and physically.
With strong name recognition and generally high popularity, especially in Monmouth County, the conservative Republican would have a strong chance to win even on the Democratic line.
Monmouth County Republican leadership is backing Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, and Henry will have the party line. The district also includes portions of Middlesex, Burlington and Ocean counties. Party chairmen from the other three counties are also expected to support Henry.
Henry is 25 years younger than Thompson, but publicly party bosses say this is not about age. They say it's about Henry's ability to win after he flipped OId Bridge to Republican control in 2011 and won re-election twice.
However, that argument seems a bit disingenuous when you consider Thompson has held his seat for three terms and won 65% of the total vote in 2021.
By switching parties, Thompson avoids what could be a costly and messy primary.
It also gives Democrats a 25-15 advantage in the Senate.
Republicans have made recapturing at least one of the legislative house a top priority of this year's legislative elections. All 120 seats in both the Assembly and Senate will be on the ballot.
Democrats lost six seats in lower house in 2021, but still hold a 46-34 majority.
Gaining enough seats to take control in either house will be difficult for Republicans. Only a handful are considered competitive districts, and Democrats still have a significant money advantage.
Thompson running as a Democrat in the heavily Republican 12th district will now force the NJ GOP to spend cash in a district that should not have been in question, making the task of claiming a majority in either house that much more difficult.
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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