Home>Campaigns>Here’s an early short list for Chris Connors’ Senate seat

Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato. (Photo: Carmen Amato).

Here’s an early short list for Chris Connors’ Senate seat

By David Wildstein, January 03 2023 4:48 pm

The surprise announcement that State Sen. Christopher Connors (R-Lacey) will not seek re-election to a sixth term in the 9th legislative district creates the first open Senate seat in Ocean County in sixteen years.

The open Senate seat gives newly-resurrected Ocean County  GOP Chairman George Gilmore the chance to increase his clout in Trenton in a district that is solidly Republican.

The early favorite to succeed Connors in the Senate would be Carmen Amato, the mayor of Berkeley and a Gilmore loyalist, if he wants to go to Trenton.

Few insiders think that the two Assembly members from the 9th, Brian Rumpf (R-Little Egg Harbor) and DiAnne Gove (R-Long Beach), will get serious consideration for the Senate, although the ascension to the upper house remains a possibility.  There’s also a chance that Rumpf or Gove could also wind up retiring.

Former Barnegat Mayor John Novak, who backed Gilmore in his comeback bid last summer could also wind up on the legislative ticket.  Novak had expressed interest in running in the 9th last year.

Other potential legislative candidates include Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre, Berkeley Councilmen John Bacchione and James Byrnes, and Little Egg Harbor Township Committeeman Ray Gormley.

John P. Kelly, the director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners and the head of the Republican County Council that awards organization line, could emerge as a Senate candidate.  The 71-year-old Kelly has held county office since 1993 and spent eleven years as the mayor of Eagleswood.

Only Connors and his late father, Leonard Connors (R-Surf City), have held the 9th district Senate seat since it was first drawn in 1981.   Christopher Connors was elected to the Assembly in 1989 and moved up to the Senate when his father retired in 2007.

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