EDISON — In a turn of events, former Edison Democratic Chairman Keith Hahn announced on social media and at a press conference that he is switching parties and running as a Republican for mayor against Mayor Thomas Lankey in November.
On June 12, Hahn, after serving as local Dem chairman since 2015, was ousted by one vote, losing to Shariq Ahmed. After his defeat, Hahn had told the press the party was in good hands with Ahmed.
However, the tides have changed with Ahmed likening Hahn’s switch to a “scorned lover.”
Hahn, a township police officer, said he thanked Republican Mayoral Candidate Guy Gaetano Gaspari for nominating him to take his place.
On Aug. 16, Gaspari, in a statement, explained that due to unforeseen personal and family matters, that he would not be able to dedicate the time necessary and focus on the campaign effectively.
Hahn said under the direction of Lankey during the past four years municipal taxes, sewer taxes and garbage taxes have increased.
“Cronyism is rampant,” he said, taking issue with “a one party rule” and taking issue with Lankey’s appointment of Anthony Russomanno as acting Department of Public Works director.
Russomanno had served as Lankey’s campaign manager.
Hahn said his mayoral campaign will not be about politics or party, but about giving the people of Edison a choice, a choice of change.
Ahmed, in a statement, said Hahn, a few weeks ago publicly praised Lankey’s leadership, embracing his initiatives and taking credit for Lankey’s many successes.
“Mr. Hahn pleaded with the Edison Democratic Party to make him Chairman for another term,” Ahmed said. “He agreed that the Democrats had a great team, right up until his bizarre decision to suddenly switch political allegiances.”
Now, Ahmed said “like a scorned lover, Mr. Hahn has switched parties.”
“Jilted at the altar, Mr. Hahn found a new home with local Republicans,” he said. “Edison residents recognize these are self-serving opportunistic actions, just as they know the great job Mayor Lankey has done in his first term. I know that voters will re-elect Mayor Lankey in November because they realize he will continue to take Edison Township in the right direction.”
Hahn made the announcement on social media on Aug. 22 and at a press conference on Aug. 23.
Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe weighed in on the mayoral race in Edison on Aug. 23, throwing his full support for Lankey’s re-election.
“Mayor Lankey has brought a steady hand and a thoughtful mind to the leadership of our county’s largest municipality,” McCabe said. “He has more than earned another term as mayor.”
McCabe said anyone who leaves the Democratic Party forfeits the support of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.
Sylvia Engel, chair of the Edison Republican Party, said the party is proud to have Hahn on their team.
“Keith Hahn is a very formidable candidate,” she said.
Engel said the party believes the tax increases and wasteful spending under Mayor Lankey’s administration are unacceptable to the average citizen.
“Keith has new ideas on how to settle the many serious problems in town,” she said. “Over the next few weeks he will vigorously campaign and lay out his plan to the voters.”
Engel said Hahn’s recent nomination has garnered feedback that is “phenomenal and very encouraging” from across party lines.