Home>Local>Bergen>Kurpis pulls out of Assembly race, leaving Auth and Azzariti facing just Caliguire

Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman John Kurpis. (Photo: John Kurpis).

Kurpis pulls out of Assembly race, leaving Auth and Azzariti facing just Caliguire

By David Wildstein, February 23 2023 11:17 pm

Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman John Kurpis has dropped out of the race for State Assembly in the 39th district, leaving perennial candidate Todd Caliguire as the lone opponent to the newly-formed slate of Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) and Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti.

Azzariti is seeking the open seat of Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River), who announced the day after the February 1 filing deadline that she would not seek re-election to a second full term.  Her exit came eight days after she announced that she would run again.

Former Ramsey Councilman Ken Tyburczy withdrew from the Assembly race yesterday and said he would back Auth and Azzariti, who will run on a ticket with State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale).   Azzariti had Schepisi’s endorsement.

When he entered the race, Kurpis said he would not run against Auth “under any circumstances” and attempted to forge a ticket with him.

“I reached out to Auth on multiple occasions with a proposal to form a team with me,” Kurpis said.  “Things I offered included, but were not limited to,  six-figure guaranteed fundraising help every election cycle, shared resources for staffing an office, and legislative transparency, both as a teammate and with our voters.  Despite my best effort, Assemblyman Auth ultimately decided on joining a separate team who he felt better fit his needs.”

Following the death of State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) two years ago, Schepisi defeated Auth by just eight votes in a special election convention.  A few weeks later, DeFuccio beat Azzariti in a special election convention for Schepisi’s Assembly seat by seven votes.

With Schepisi’s support, Azzariti and Kurpis teamed up in the Assembly primary, on the line with her in Passaic and off-the-line in Bergen.  Auth and DeFuccio won by over 3,000 votes.

Just before Auth agreed to run with Schepisi and Azzariti, Bergen County Democrats suggested they would target the 39th district if Republicans picked Auth and Caliguire for the Assembly.

Caliguire, 67, is coming off a race for Bergen County Executive. He lost by 11 percentage points and raised just $130,397 in a county of over one million people; Democratic incumbent James Tedesco beat Caliguire in the Republican-leaning municipalities in the 39th district.

Caliguire last won an election in 1995, when he was re-elected to a second term on the Bergen County Board of Freeholders.    He sought party support for congressman in 1984 and county executive in 1986.  He was a two-term freeholder but hadn’t won an election since 1995.  He’s lost two races for State Senate, one for county executive, and one for the Republican nomination for governor.

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