Now that Anthony M. Bucco has won his father’s State Senate seat – he’s due to be sworn in on Tuesday – Democrats want to know what happens next.
Bucco will need to resign from the Assembly by 11 AM Tuesday to become a senator. He’s remaining in the Assembly race, which means that if he wins his November 5 race, Republican insiders will not have to pick a replacement until after the election.
Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger are calling him a fake candidate and want Republicans to tell the voters who they will get if Bucco wins.
“In our democracy, public officials are elected by the people, not appointed by party insiders behind closed doors,” said campaign manager Daniel Fleiss. “Anthony needs to be as upfront with voters about who will take his place in the State Assembly as he has been about how little he wants the job.”
While Democrats are calling this a partisan power grab, one independent observer says it might be in Bucco’s best interests if Republicans identify his successor before Election Day.
“Even though this kind of disclosure is not a requirement, it can be a really good idea to remove uncertainty and fear of the unknown,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
Rasmussen said that by defining his pool of potential U.S. Supreme Court candidates before the 2016 election gave President Donald Trump a huge boost from his base and let voters know what was at stake.
“Senator Bucco might or might not view that as a strategic advantage, but given how unusual his situation is— of how holding higher office and having no intention of taking the seat he’s asking voters to give him, it could actually help him and it’s something he ought to consider,” Rasmussen said.
Bucco’s campaign manager, Rob Costello, pushed back on the request from the Democrats.
“Anthony can’t appoint a candidate,” Costello said. “This flailing attempt at an attack is unclear and makes no sense, much like the stances our opponents have taken on every significant issue since this race began.”
This story was updated at 6:24 PM with comment from Costello.