Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) repeated his call for Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) to agree to a unity pledge that would see the two candidates abide by the Bergen County Republican Committee’s decision on a Senate candidate Tuesday.
“My public pledge of unity has been met with the silence of a church mouse and proves unity is only important in this campaign if Assemblywoman Schepisi is awarded the seat,” Auth said. “As we await the results of county committee it is important that we, as a party, unite and focus our energy on winning in November and keeping this district in the hands of the Republican Party.”
Both incumbents are seeking the Senate seat held by late State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest), who died last month at 86, in an increasingly rancorous intra-party fight.
On Monday, Auth requested Schepisi agree to a unity pledge to avoid a primary. The terms were simple: Whoever loses at tonight’s convention doesn’t run for Senate.
The move could allow the assemblyman to seek re-election if Schepisi wins the line for Senate at Tuesday’s convention, though it’s not clear whether he could seek organizational support for both the Senate and Assembly. The New Jersey Globe last week reported Schepisi was the convention’s presumptive winner.
Auth pulled out of the Senate contest Friday, telling the New Jersey Globe he “wanted party unity” and was “trying to avoid a party fight” only to reenter the race hours later with an attack at Bergen County Republican Chairman Jack Zisa, who in a statement sent by Schepisi said the two legislators would run together with Auth seeking re-election to the Assembly.
“If we engage in an expensive primary campaign, we only increase the chances of a Democratic upset in November,” Auth said Tuesday. “Let us put aside personal ambition and unite in the best interests of our party. How will Assemblywoman Schepisi answer the challenges from the Democrats when she cannot answer a simple unity challenge?”