Home>Highlight>GOP must now fill Bucco Assembly seat

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, left, and late State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco.

GOP must now fill Bucco Assembly seat

Special Election Convention unlikely before November 5

By David Wildstein, October 17 2019 9:23 am

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Editor’s note: the Senate has changed their session from Tuesday to Thursday.  That changes the dates for a county committee meeting to fill Anthony Bucco’s soon-to-be-vacant Assembly seat to October 31 to November 28.

In order to take his seat in the State Senate on Tuesday, Anthony M. Bucco will need to resign from the State Assembly.  That will trigger another special election convention to fill his seat.

Republican county committee must meet between October 29 and November 26 to deal with Bucco’s unexpired term.  Sources suggest that it is highly unlikely that Bucco’s Assembly seat will be filled before November 5, when Bucco and party leaders can take the results of the general election into consideration.

If Bucco wins re-election to the Assembly, the party’s choice to replace him until a November 2020 special election could get a jump start on their legislative career.

But if Bucco is defeated for the Assembly seat he has no intention of holding anyway, Republicans would simply pick a caretaker who would serve until the expiration of his current term in January.

One consideration is whether Bucco’s running mate, Brian Bergen, wins or loses his bid for Michael Patrick Carroll’s open Assembly seat.

If Bucco wins and Bergen doesn’t, one option would be for Bergen to go to the Assembly anyway. 

Should they both lose, Bergen could still get to the Assembly as a short-term replacement.  It’s not immediately clear if Bergen would resign his Denville Council seat just to get a few weeks as an assemblyman.

In 1989, Republican Paul Kapalko lost his bid for a State Assembly seat in the 11th district by 2,182 votes to Democrat Daniel Jacobson.  Incumbent Joseph Palaia, who did not seek re-election and then won a special election for State Senate (Frank Pallone had resigned to become a congressman), resigned and Kapalko went to the Assembly anyway for ten weeks. 

Bucco is facing criticism from Democrats for remaining in the Assembly race even though he has no intention of serving.

Democrats have called on Bucco to announce who his replacement would be, but that decision rests with the 25th district Republican County Committee members.

Possible candidates include Assistant Morris County Counsel John Barbarula, and Aura Dunn, the former District Director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

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