A Brick resident has filled one of the Ocean County State Assembly seats for the last 45 years, so there is an expectation that the successor to retiring Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Brick) will come from the town of more than 75,000 residents.
Brick Republican Municipal Chairman Brian DeLuca says he expects Ocean County Republicans will pick someone from his town to replace Wolfe, who announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election after 28 years in the legislature.
“I would think this is our time to have the seat,” DeLuca said. “There are a lot of good people to choose from.”
Possible candidates for the seat include John Catalano and Ruth Anne Scaturro, both former township council members.
“I would lean to John Catalano,” DeLuca told the New Jersey Globe. “John is an excellent choice.”
Catalano has served as president of the Brick Republican Club since 2013. He served as a commissioner of the housing and municipal utility authorities and as a planning board member.
Catalano says he plans to seek Wolfe’s seat.
“I’m going to throw my hat in the ring,” he said. “I know the ropes. I’ve done a lot of good in Brick. ”
Catalano echoed DeLuca’s belief that the open seat is a Brick seat and that Wolfe’s successor ought to come from Brick.
Scaturro was the Republican candidate for mayor in 2017, losing to incumbent John Ducey.
DeLuca said the party needs a little time to consider potential replacements for Wolfe, who began his own political career as a Brick councilman in 1974.
“He caught a lot of us by surprise,” he said of Wolfe’s retirement announcement.
DeLuca said he did not expect to run himself but refused to rule out the possibility entirely.
He said he expects that the race will sort itself out within the next few weeks.
Another possible candidate is Brick councilman Jim Fozman, who switched to the GOP last year and endorsed Bob Hugin for U.S. Senate. Fozman is now the lone Republican on the township council.
DeLuca praised Fozman and said he expects him to seek re-election to the council in 2019.
Besides Brick and Toms River, Bay Head, Island Heights, Lakehurst, Lavallette, Manchester, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach and Seaside Heights are also in the district.
Wolfe was first elected in the 1991 anti-Florio Republican landslide on a ticket with Andrew Ciesla and Virginia Haines.
Ciesla, the Brick council president, was elected to the Senate. Haines, a Toms River resident, ran with Wolfe for Assembly.
After Haines resigned from the Assembly in 1994 to become state lottery director, she was replaced by another Toms River Republican, former Ocean County prosecutor James Holzapfel. When Ciesla retired in 2011, the Senate seat shifted from Brick to Toms River when Holzapfel moved up. His Assembly seat was filled by Toms River council president Gregory McGuckin.
When Democrats won the district in the 1973 Watergate landslide, Toms River resident John Russo won the Senate seat and Brick got the two Assembly seats: John Paul Doyle and Dan Newman. Doyle served until he lost the ’91 Senate race to Ciesla.
Brick also had both Assembly seats from 1982 to 1984 when Republican Warren Wolf served with Doyle.