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Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

DeFuccio won’t run for re-election after all

Republican assemblywoman has served only one full term in legislature

By Joey Fox and David Wildstein, February 02 2023 10:00 am

Just a week after she officially launched her re-election campaign, Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River) has decided not to seek re-election after all to the 39th legislative district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

“I’ve made the difficult decision not to seek reelection this year,” DeFuccio confirmed in a statement. “While I have been honored to represent Legislative District 39 in the state Assembly, I have made this decision for personal reasons. I will continue to vigorously serve my constituents through the end of my term and I am confident that my outstanding colleagues Bob Auth and Holly Schepisi will provide leadership in the days and years ahead.”

In DeFuccio’s absence, four Republican candidates intend to seek her seat: Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti, Saddle River GOP chairman Jon Kurpis, former Freeholder Todd Caliguire, and Bergen GOP deputy vice chairman Ken Tyburczy.

Azzariti, who challenged DeFuccio in 2021, is the early favorite for Bergen Republican line; Kurpis also ran in 2021 for the same seat. Caliguire, meanwhile, is fresh off an 11-point general election loss for Bergen County Executive last year.

Kurpis had already publicly launched his Assembly campaign this morning, before it was clear that DeFuccio would decline to run again. He cited rumors that DeFuccio would seek a judgeship after winning re-election as the reason for his challenge.

DeFuccio, the granddaughter of the late State Sen. William F. Kelly (D-Jersey City) and a former Upper Saddle River councilwoman, is only in her first full term as an assemblywoman. In March 2021, she won a special election convention to replace now-State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) against Azzariti by a narrow 88-81 vote margin.

With an endorsement from Schepisi, Azzariti teamed up with Kurpis and ran off-the-line in the regularly scheduled June primary, but they lost by a healthy margin to DeFuccio and Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan), who himself had lost to Schepisi at a special convention for the district’s Senate seat.

This year, Schepisi had buried the hatchet with DeFuccio and Auth, announcing a joint re-election ticket with her former rivals. But with DeFuccio heading for the exit, Schepisi now gets the chance to get one of her original allies elected instead.

But Schepisi might not glide through her own re-nomination campaign uncontested; Michele LaTour, a member of the Northern Valley Board of Education, may challenge her for the Republican nomination.

This story was updated at 10:42 a.m. with the addition of Caliguire’s and LaTour’s potential candidacies, and again at 11:17 a.m. with a statement from DeFuccio.

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