Anthony M. Bucco’s decision to move up to the State Senate while seeking re-election to a two-year term in the Assembly has his Democratic rivals slamming the feculent odor of his move.
The New Jersey Globe reported today that Republicans will hold a mid-October special election convention to replace Bucco’s father, State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, who died on September 16.
“Plain and simple, Both Ways Bucco wants to defraud the voters of the 25th legislative district,” said Daniel Fleiss, the campaign manager for Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger. “One thing we can say for sure: if Bucco gets his way, there’s no way he is serving in the State Assembly in January 2020.”
Since the legal but often-ignored deadline to replace candidates on the general election has passed, Bucco has decided to remain on the ballot for the Assembly despite his intention to not serve. If he wins, Republicans would appoint someone to the Assembly to serve until a November 2020 special election.
“Republicans are hoping they can sneak past voters and anoint their hand-picked lackey to public office, regardless of qualifications and without ever giving the people a say,” Fleiss said. “It’s disingenuous to the core and flies in the face of every democratic principle.”
Bucco can remain in his Assembly seat until he is sworn into the Senate and can remain on the ballot for Assembly. If he wins, he must choose which of the posts he wants.
Fleiss said that Bhimani and Draeger want Bucco to pledge that he would serve as full-term in the Assembly, if he wins.
“If he cannot make that pledge, he should allow the Morris County Republicans to choose a real candidate, not be bullied by Bucco wanting to have it both ways,” Fleiss said. “If they’re going to pull the wool over the eyes of voters, Darcy has some sheep they can borrow.”
Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt punched back at the Democrats, telling Bhimani and Draeger to “renounce their despicable campaign statement that Republicans are being bullied by Bucco.
“He did not want his father to die during his campaign, I can assure you of that,” Steinhardt said. “There is a process, we are following it, and they should apologize for their insensitive, gutter politics.”
The two Democrats have ruled out running for the Senate seat next year, if they beat Bucco and running mate Brian Bergen in the November Assembly race.
This story was updated at 6:00 PM to include comment from Steinhardt.