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Rep.-elect Mikie Sherrill, center, with 25th district Democratic Assembly candidates Darcy Draeger, left, and Lisa Bhimani, right

Democrats launch bid in 25th

Bhimani and Draeger seek to oust Bucco

By David Wildstein, November 26 2018 12:10 am

Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger will formally enter the race for State Assembly in the 25th district this afternoon in the official start of what may be one of the most hotly contested legislative races of 2019.

The 25th is one of two open seats in the Legislature so far, with Republican Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) leaving the Assembly after twelve terms to run for Morris County Surrogate.

Five-term incumbent Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) is seeking re-election.

While the Morris County district, which also includes Bernardsville in Somerset, has been held by Republicans since 1979, Democrats have made major gains in recent years.  Hillary Clinton won the 25th, albeit by just 18 votes, and Democratic congressional candidates combined for a 9,479-vote win on November 6.

Rep.-elect Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) will introduce Bhimani and Draeger at their campaign kickoff in Mendham.

Bhimani ran for the State Senate in 2017 and State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco to a 52%-48% margin in 2017 in a district that has 9,332 more Republicans than Democrats.  She now taking aim at Bucco’s son, who has been viewed as heir apparent for his father’s senate seat.

Draeger, a former regulatory analyst with UBS AG, is the Chester Township Democratic Municipal Chair.  She and her family raise sheep, chickens and honeybees on their farm.

Morris County Republicans are expected to have a primary fight for Carroll’s seat.  So far, only Denville councilman Brian Bergen has entered the race.

Possible GOP candidates include freeholders Deborah Smith and Kathy DeFillippo, Mendham Township Committeewoman Sarah Neibart and former Roxbury Mayor Tim Smith.  Peter DeNeufville, a Mendham businessman who spent $1.3 million – most of it his own money – to win the Republican nomination for Congress last June, is also viewed as a potential Assembly candidate.

Democrats won control of one of the largest town’s in the district, Morris Township, this cycle. One of the Republicans who lost re-election was Bruce Sisler, Assemblyman Bucco’s chief of staff and a potential candidate for Carroll’s seat.  Businessman Peter DeNeufville, who spent more than $1

Since her last campaign, Bhimani took a leadership role in March for Our Lives, a group that advocated gun safety.  Bucco has a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association.  She was a practicing Ob/Gyn.  She became the Morris County Democratic vice chair in 2017 and helped elect two Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Draeger headed the Morris County campaign of Rep.-elect Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill).

The 25th includes 21 municipalities in Morris and Somerset counties: Bernardsville, Boonton Borough and Boonton Township, Chester Borough and Chester Township, Denville, Dover, Mendham Borough and Mendham Township, Mine Hill, Morris Township, Morristown, Mount Arlington, Mountain Lakes, Netcong, Randolph, Rockaway, Roxbury, Victory Gardens, Washington, and Wharton.

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