Click play for audio version of this story
Republican John Barbarula says he wants to succeed Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) as an assemblyman from the 25th district next year.
“I will be seeking that position, but now there’s no position to seek,” Barbarula told the New Jersey Globe. “I cannot throw my name into something that doesn’t exist.”
Bucco is planning to seek the State Senate seat of his father, Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton), who died last week at age 81.
He also plans to continue his bid for re-election to a sixth term in the Assembly in November.
If he wins, he would decline to take the oath of office for a new term in January, triggering a special election convention among Republican County Committee members to fill the vacancy.
Should Bucco lose his Assembly seat to one of his Democratic opponents, Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger, there would be no vacancy to fill.
No matter what, Bucco will remain in the Senate until the results of a November 2020 special election for the remaining fourteen months of his father’s term are certified.
Barbarula, an Assistant Morris County Counsel, was one of three Republicans who ran in the June primary for the open seat of retiring twelve-term Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township).
The nomination was won by Denville Councilman Brian Bergen. He defeated Aura Dunn, a former district director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, buy 1,418 votes. Barbarula finished just 144 votes behind Dunn.
Dunn could emerge as a candidate to replace Bucco, as could Bergen – if Bucco wins and he does not.
Mendham Township Deputy Mayor Sarah Neibart, Morris County Republican Committee Counsel Peter King, and Morris County GOP Finance Chairman Craig Heard are also viewed as potential candidates.
The winner of the special election convention – if there is one – would need to defend the seat in 2020 primary and general elections.
Bucco will need to resign his Assembly seat to be sworn in as a Senator, assuming he wins the the mid-October special election for his father’s seat. That will trigger another special election — likely not held until after the November general election — to fill the remaining months of Bucco’s term in the lower house.