Home>Local>Bergen>Azzariti beats Caliguire for Bergen GOP line in 39th district; Schepisi, Auth win easily

Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti.(Photo: John Azzariti).

Azzariti beats Caliguire for Bergen GOP line in 39th district; Schepisi, Auth win easily

By David Wildstein, March 21 2023 9:07 pm

Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti handily defeated former Bergen County Freeholder Todd Caliguire for the Bergen County Republican organization line for an open State Assembly in the 39th district, while State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) won a landslide victory against a primary challenger.

Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) was the top vote-getter with 216 votes, and Azzariti finished second with 159.  Caliguire was dealt yet another loss, finishing a distant third with 109 votes.

One incumbent in the 39th, DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River), is not seeking re-election.

In the State Senate race, Schepisi defeated Northern Valley Regional High School Board of Education member Michele LaTour, 189 to 69, a margin of 73%-27%.

LaTour has said she would remain in the race even if she didn’t win the convention.  Caliguire has sent mixed signals.

The Bergen County-based district has not sent a Democrat to the legislature since 1977.

Caliguire, who went door-to-door in an aggressive bid to resuscitate his political career, hasn’t won an election in 28 years after a glut of political and business failures.

He lost a 2022 bid for Bergen County Executive by more than 11 percentage points against two-term incumbent James Tedesco.  Tedesco beat Caliguire in the 28 mostly-Republican municipalities in the newly-drawn 39th district, albeit by a narrow margin.

A onetime rising star in Republican politics, Caliguire sought party support for congressman in 1984 and county executive in 1986.  He was a two-term freeholder but hadn’t won an election since 1995. He’s lost two races for State Senate – the last one, in 2007, was tarnished by a racist campaign flyer – two for county executive, and one for the Republican nomination for governor in 2005 – he received 2.5% statewide and finished last at the Bergen GOP convention.

Democrats have picked  former Westwood Councilwoman Jodi Murphy for Senate, and Damon Englese, a public school principal from Dumont, and restaurant owner John Vitale for Assembly.

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