Both sides continue to hurl barbs in the Morris County-based 25th district, where Republican Anthony R. Bucco is seeking re-election to the State Assembly despite announcing his candidacy for his late father’s State Senate seat.
Republican Brian Bergen, who is seeking an Assembly seat on Bucco’s ticket, took a shot today at the Democratic candidates for criticizing his running mate just a week after his father’s death.
“Anthony Bucco is a man of character and dignity – just like his father was,” said Bergen, a Denville Councilman. “To attack him with sarcastic comments and half-witted jokes in the midst of this tragic personal situation is shocking and disgusting.”
Bergen wants Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger to apologize.
“They continue to exhibit a complete lack of compassion and in my opinion, it makes them unfit for office,” Bergen said. “They should be more focused on explaining why they are cheating property taxpayers on their million dollar homes, while sticking everyone else with the bill, than lobbing these despicable smears.”
Daniel Fleiss the campaign manager for Bhimani and Draeger, dismissed Bergen’s comments as absurd.
“The only joke in this election is this blatant power grab and trampling of every basic democratic value by Anthony Bucco and his team,” Fleiss said.
Democrats yesterday disparaged Bucco for running for a seat he has no intention of holding, even though New Jersey allows late ballot substitutions – as long as the party replacing the candidate pays for the costs of printing and mailing new ballots.
“Elected leaders shouldn’t be appointed by party insiders behind closed doors, but that’s exactly what they hope to accomplish by running Bucco for an office they know he’ll never fill,” Fleiss said. “It’s a disgusting attempt to bypass the voters and allow Republican officials to bait and switch whatever hand-picked stooge they choose into the seat of power.”
Fleiss said that if Bucco wants to be a Senator, he needs to step aside and allow a replacement candidate to run.
“If Republican leadership cared half as much about democracy as they do about groveling to their donors at the NRA and tearing away healthcare from thousands of New Jersey voters, they would agree.”