Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) is one of the biggest stakeholders in the campaign of Tom Kean, Jr. for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district.
If Kean beats freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) in 2020, Bramnick would become the immediate front-runner to fill a vacant State Senate seat in a January 2021 special election convention.
That would make him a 67-year-old freshman senator less than two months before legislative districts are redrawn for the 2021 election.
Bramnick could lose re-election this year in a legislative district that is becoming increasingly more Democratic. His running mate, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), won re-election in 2017 by just one percentage point.
But Bramnick’ ability to move to the Senate is not dependent on his re-election. Republican county committee members could pick him for the Senate seat even if voters reject him this year.
Union County Republicans don’t have any candidates who could beat Bramnick at a convention.
If he wins re-election against Democrats Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman, and then Kean wins the House seat, Bramnick moving up to the Senate would force a special election convention for his Assembly seat.
That too could be a short-term gig with new legislative districts forthcoming.
Democrats would be sure to mount an aggressive bid to pick up the Senate seat if they win the 2019 Assembly race.
Republicans would need to decide if candidates from Westfield and Summit would be precluded from getting Bramnick’s Assembly seat, since those two municipalities already have representation in the legislature. That was an issue when Bramnick first ran in a 2003 special election convention.
Possible candidates for Bramnick’s seat: Union County Republican Chairman Glenn Mortimer, who is retiring as a Mountainside councilman at the end of the year; Cranford Township Committeewoman Mary O’Connor, if she wins re-election to her own local seat this year; Roselle Park councilman (and former mayor) Joseph DeIorio. Another potential candidate, New Providence Councilman Robert Munoz, could create a Munoz & Munoz ticket in 2021.
The 21st has Democratic mayors in eight of the ten Union County towns, leading to a weakened Republican bench in a politically competitive district. A Republican from Bernards Township in Somerset County, the second largest municipality in the district, could also emerge as a potential candidate.