Home>Campaigns>Mehta wins Democratic Senate convention to take on Bucco

Democratic State Senate candidate Rupande Mehta.

Mehta wins Democratic Senate convention to take on Bucco

Beats Grayzel by two votes

By David Wildstein, March 15 2020 8:06 pm

Rupande Mehta has won the Morris County Democratic organization line for State Senate in the 25th district.

She defeated former Morris Township mayor Jeff Grayzel by two votes, 136 to 134, on a second ballot.

Mehta and Grayzel tied on the first ballot, each receiving 105 votes, 37.4 of the vote.  Attorney Cliff Dawkins finished third with 71 votes, 25.3%.

Morris used ranked-choice voting, giving Mehta a second ballot victory over Grayzel, 50.4%-49.6%.

She is expected to face State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) in the fall.

Mehta was helped by the late appointment of thirteen county committee members in Randolph, where she had the support of the Democratic municipal chair.

A convention scheduled today was cancelled in response to coronavirus and was replaced with an online vote that attracted a huge turnout.

Of the 322 eligible voters, Democrats were able to identify email addresses for all but 10.  A full 90% of those county committee members voted online.

“It was a hard-fought victory. This shows the county committee members are most concerned with the issues that matter to LD-25 residents,” said Mehta.  “As I have done since the start of my campaign, I will continue to listen to what matters to you. I am grateful to your belief in me and my campaign. I look forward to the Democratic party being united in support of the entire ticket in November.”

All three candidates had agreed to abide by the wishes of the convention and not run in the June 2 Democratic primary.

Somerset County has one town in the 25th, Bernardsville, and had been expected to give their line to the winner of the Morris convention.

Bucco won an October special election for a Senate seat left vacant when his father, seven-term State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton) died in September.

Since his father’s death occurred after the deadline to allow voters to pick a new senator, Bucco also remained in the race for re-election to the Assembly.  He won that election.

The November special election will be to fill the remaining fourteen months of the term Anthony R. Bucco won in 2017.   There is also a special election to fill Anthony M. Bucco’s Assembly term.

“The last thing New Jersey needs is another rubber stamp in the state Senate supporting Phil Murphy’s insatiable appetite for our tax dollars. New Jersey’s state government needs diversity of thought, they need common-sense thinkers and they need a fiscally minded representative like Senator Bucco,” said Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt in a statement issued after the Democratic convention vote.  “Our state’s affordability crisis has the potential to get a lot worse in the coming months and voters need to know that the NJGOP agenda is the right first step to making sure our kids can afford to start their lives here and our parents and grandparents can afford to retire here. Tony Bucco fights for the people of north Jersey and that’s why he will be re-elected resoundingly this November.”

Democrats have picked Chester Democratic municipal chair Darcy Draeger to run for Assembly against Bucco’s replacement, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham). Draeger lost a race to Bucco in 2019.

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