Assemblyman Richard Merkt is not only running for governor, he’s running across New Jersey.

 

The Morris County Republican is hoping to run in all 566 of the state’s municipalities before next year’s primary. So far, he’s hit about 340 towns, covering about 400 miles in his New Balance sneakers, he said.

“Part of the message I’m trying to send is that I’m willing to work for this nomination,” Merkt said. “This has been a lot of time and a lot of effort.”

Merkt said that he’s “running” in his first run for the governor’s office because he wanted to learn more about the state. What better way, he thought, than to hit the pavement one town at a time.

Monday, Merkt ran through parts of Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Burlington Counties. Tuesday, he’s in Passaic County. He typically runs anywhere from half a mile to three or four miles at a stretch, stopping along the way to introduce himself to people, ask questions and ask for their support.

Merkt said he’s learned just how diverse the state is in terms of people and neighborhoods. He was surprised to hear one consistent message from the people he’s met, he said, which is that people lack confidence in Trenton.

“They’re worried about jobs, the economy - those are really the top issues,” Merkt said, adding that the concerns were the same from Bergen County down to Cape May.

Most people are surprised when the casually-dressed Merkt introduces himself, mid-run, as a state legislator and candidate for governor.

Merkt admitted he had a secondary motive to launching his running campaign. He says he’s lost about 10 pounds so far – not as much as he would have liked, because the exercise increases his appetite, so he ends up eating more.



 

 

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