Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-Wyckoff), who is retiring from the legislature at the end of this session, has a lot of money in his campaign account – $166,974, to be exact. But he’s not saying for sure what he might spend it on.
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it,” Rooney said today. “I could run for something in the future, I could give it to nonprofits, I could support colleagues or future colleagues in any way shape or form. Right now, I’m going to sit on the money.”
Rooney’s departure from the legislature this year isn’t exactly voluntary. After legislative redistricting reshaped his 40th district to include more of Essex County, party leaders opted to push Rooney aside in favor of Essex GOP chair Al Barlas; Rooney quickly announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election off-the-line.
But he evidently doesn’t sound like he wants to be done with politics, and having a huge warchest – larger than that of any other Assembly Republican – can only help. If Rooney does try to re-enter elected office at some point, starting out with more than $150,000 in the bank would provide an immediate advantage that would be tough to match.
Rooney could also use some of the money to boost the campaigns of his Republican friends and colleagues, keeping those relationships alive even as he departs Trenton. That’s surely what Republican legislative leadership wants him to do as they work to expand their caucus in this year’s elections.
Asked directly whether he planned on running for another office in the future, Rooney was circumspect.
“You never know,” he said. “When a door opens, you sometimes need to seize that opportunity. We’ll see what happens.”