Home>Feature Right>If Tony Bucco steps down in September, his son would avoid 2019 campaign

State Sen. Anthony Bucco, left, announced last week that he is being treated for throat cancer. There is now speculation that he will look to pass off his Senate seat to his son, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, right, before his term expires in 2021

If Tony Bucco steps down in September, his son would avoid 2019 campaign

How Bucco can pass off his Senate seat to his son for a year without an election

By David Wildstein, February 11 2019 9:01 am

State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton) will begin treatment for throat cancer and the New Jersey Globe, along with people from both parties throughout the state, wish him the very best as he begins his road to recovery.

The conventional wisdom has long been that the 80-year-old Morris County Republican wants his son, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton), to someday succeed him in the Senate – perhaps when his seventh term comes to an end in 2021.

The announcement that Bucco will undergo radiation and chemotherapy – a family spokesman says he’ll return to the Senate in the spring – has increased speculation that he will look to pass off his Senate seat to his son even earlier.

Here’s how it might happen

* Anthony R. Bucco would announce after September 10 that he is stepping down from the Senate for health reasons.

* The Morris County Republican Committee would hold a special election convention and pick Anthony M. Bucco to fill his father’s Senate seat.

* Anthony M. Bucco would withdraw his candidacy for the State Assembly in the 25th district.

* Morris Republicans would hold a special convention to pick a new nominee.  There would be no primary.

* As long as the Senate vacancy occurs after September 10, there would be no special election in 2019.  Anthony M. Bucco could immediately take the Senate seat and would not have to face voters until a special election in 2020.

* If Anthony R. Bucco were to leave the Senate before September 10, it would trigger a November 2019 special election.

Anthony M. Bucco is facing a tough re-election campaign to hold his Assembly seat in November 2019 against Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger.  Bhimani won 48% against Anthony R. Bucco in the Senate race two years ago.

Moving up to the Senate after September 10 would spare Anthony M. Bucco from facing the voters this year.  He would get fourteen months in the Senate before he runs again.

If his father remains in office and he loses his Assembly seat this fall, his path to the State Senate down the road becomes more complicated.

Anthony M. Bucco was re-elected to a fifth term in 2017 by just 2,430 votes, down from 26,327 in 2013 and 17,719 in 2009.

While the Morris County district, which also includes Bernardsville in Somerset, has been held by Republicans since 1979, Democrats have made major gains in recent years.  Hillary Clinton won the 25th, albeit by just 18 votes, and Democratic congressional candidates combined for a 9,479-vote win in 2018.

For extreme political junkies: 28 of the 40 current members of the New Jersey State Senate previously served in the Assembly.  Only one, Robert Singer, had ever lost an Assembly re-election campaign; Singer mounted a comeback to the Assembly before moving up to the Senate.

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