New Jersey state Senator Sam Thompson, a conservative Republican whose district includes Jackson, has decided to switch parties and run for re-election this year as a Democrat.
“I don’t feel I am leaving my party,” Thompson told the New Jersey Globe website, which first reported the story, on Sunday, adding: “I feel my party leadership has abandoned me.”
The 87-year-old Thompson is facing a primary challenge from Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry and has been pressured by party leaders to step aside and allow a younger candidate to run for the Senate seat which Thompson first won in 2011.
With his switch, the Democratic majority in the New Jersey State Senate increases to 25-15.
All 120 seats in both the Assembly and Senate will be on the ballot.
The move by Thompson astonished political observers in the state, with many wondering what his game plan is.
The 12th district, which covers portions of 4 counties, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Middlesex, is solidly Republican; and Thompson was re-elected to his third term in 2021 with 65% of the vote.
In the 2021 gubernatorial race, Ciattarelli won the district by 27 points over Governor Murphy.
Jackson and Plumsted are the only two towns from Ocean County which are included in the 12th Legislative District.
Last year, the district received a new Assemblyman, after former Jackson Council Vice President Alex Sauicki was elected to replace the late Assemblyman Ronald Dancer.
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