State Sen. Tony Bucco (R-Boonton) launched the first attack of his re-election campaign Friday, targeting Democratic challenger Rupande Mehta over the effect of COVID-19 shutdowns on New Jersey businesses.
“My opponent’s position is so extreme it’s out of step with the Governor of her own Party because it would jeopardize economic security and livelihoods, permanently destroy our downtowns, and place greater property tax burdens onto homeowners,” Bucco said. “Our non-partisan, expert led-report in May made numerous recommendations with a fundamental principle — Main Street businesses could be reopened safely in just the same way that big box stores were allowed to operate.”
Last week, after Bucco warned that a continued ban on indoor dining would lead to widespread restaurant closures, Mehta hit Bucco over a May report he drafted in concert with the Morris County Chamber of Commerce that said the state could reopen its economy immediately.
On Friday, she again charged that Bucco was more concerned with politics than he was with the lives of his constituents.
“Unlike Bucco, I will not undermine the lives of thousands of New Jerseyans we’ve lost to COVID-19 by ignoring data and science,” Mehta said. “Protecting the public health and safety of the people of this district should not be a partisan matter. When Bucco goes to Trenton, he only has one interest in — and that’s himself.”
The two are running in the special State Senate election this year, with the prize being the remainder of late State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco’s (R-Boonton) term.
The younger Bucco was appointed to fill his father’s seat in October, leaving his Assembly seat open for Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham), who is also running in a special election for the remainder of her term. She faces Chester Township Democratic Municipal Chairwoman Darcy Draeger, who ran for Assembly last year.
On the Senate side, the prevailing strategy appears to be claiming the opposition is too far to the left or right.
“I’ve proven I can work across the aisle to deliver results for people when needed most, including helping over 1,200 people navigate our state’s broken unemployment system,” Bucco said. “Now is not the time to send inexperienced hyper-partisans like Rupande Mehta to Trenton.”
Mehta said much the same.
“Bucco is the definition of hyper partisan — take one look at his voting record and you will see, he votes 100% of the time in line with his party,” she said. “I have said this before — I will continue to be an independent voice for the people of LD-25.”