A virtual tie at Saturday’s screening committee session for potential Monmouth County Freeholder candidates means that Red Bank Councilman John Curley and Holmdel Mayor Serena DiMaso will have another month to court favor with county Republicans.

Party chairman Adam Puharic last night said that rather than make the selection himself, he will put the choice between DiMaso and Curley in the hands of GOP delegates at their convention one month from today in Middletown, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

The party is looking for a running mate for inumbent Freeholder Director Lillian Burry as it seks to retain its 3-2 majority on the board. GOP Freeholder William Barham of Monmouth Beach isn’t running for re-election.

From the Press:

Puharic’s decision, which he announced to about 400 party loyalists at the 45th annual Lincoln Day reception fundraiser at the South Gate Manor restaurant, knocked former Freehold Township Zoning Board member Steven Walsh out of the race.

Walsh, Curley and DiMaso had emerged from screening committee meetings on Saturday in a virtual dead heat, Puharic said, with Curley slightly ahead with 16 votes. Walsh and DiMaso had 14 screening committee votes each.

“Everyone who screened, everyone who put their letter of intent in, would be an excellent running mate for Lillian Burry,” Puharic said. “This decision was not very easy.”

Puharic said Curley “has been battling Democrats in Red Bank and winning,” and said DiMaso “has done a great job getting Republicans back into the majority in Holmdel.”

Curley and DiMaso are now free to court the party’s approximately 700 delegates for support in advance of the March 26 convention in Middletown.

The county Democrats have not announced who their frontrunners are for this year’s county elections, the Press reports. Their convention is being held March 8 in Atlantic Highlands.

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