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Aura Kenny Dunn, the district director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) in 2018

Dunn gets support from Frelinghuysen in Assembly bid

Ex-congressman sends $500 to his former staffer

By David Wildstein, May 18 2019 11:49 am

Aura Dunn is getting support from her ex-boss, former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, in her bid for an open State Assembly seat in the 25th district.

Frelinghuysen contributed $500 to Dunn, who served as his district director for three years.  He also contributed $500 to her primary opponent, Denville councilman Bruce Bergen.

Once a lobbyist for Sesame Street, Dunn is one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the seat of  Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), who his giving his Assembly seat after twelve terms to run for Morris County Surrogate.   She faces Bergen and special assistant county counsel John Barbarula.

Dunn has raised $21,421 and had the top cash-on-hand, $16,048, as of the last report she filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.  She has raised $21,421.

Her donors include Rosemary Becchi, who is exploring a bid for Congress in the 7th district, former freeholder Christine Myers, and IBEW Local 102.

Bergen, a West Point graduate and former Army helicopter pilot, reported raising $53,457 and has $14,903 in the bank.  Barbarula has raised $15,266 and has $13,740 remaining.  He reported a $1,000 contribution from Jon Hanson, a longtime GOP fundraiser who is now a business partner of former Gov and 25th district resident Chris Christie.

Also showing up on Bergen’s report are $11,000 in expenditures to Checkmate Action Group, a shadowy fundraising consulting firm that operates out of a mail forwarding center in Wyoming with no name attached to it.  A slate of candidates running for freeholder against a slate of incumbents in the GOP primary also report using the Wyoming firm.

Five-term incumbent Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) is seeking re-election.  He has raised $311,039 and has $123,856 cash-on-hand.

The winners of the Republican primary will face Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger, who entered the race last November.

Democrats are targeting the 25th district as possible pickups after coming close in 2017.

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

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.

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. 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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