2019 could be put or shut up time for Jonathan Hornik, the Democratic mayor of Marlboro.
The announcement that Amy Handlin will not seek re-election to an eighth term in the State Assembly in 2019 renews speculation that Hornik could run for an open Assembly seat.
Hornik has been frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for higher office since he ousted Republican incumbent Robert Kleinberg in 2007 but has never taken a shot. He most recently passed on running for something else last year when longtime State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos retired. Democrats think he’ll pass next year too.
Republicans haven’t lost an election in the Monmouth County-based 13th district since 1983 – Donald Trump won 57% there in 2016 – and this is an unlikely place for a Democratic upset. Still, considering Hornik’s fundraising skill and Marlboro base, he could be the strongest candidate to take a seat in Gov. Phil Murphy’s home district.
The Assembly tops the ticket in 2019, which creates odd voter turnout models. The future, whether it involves Trump or Murphy, is unpredictable.
If Hornik were to win an Assembly seat next year, it could set up Democrats to move Marlboro into the 12th district and create a race between him and State Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge).
Hornik is expected to seek re-election to a fourth term as mayor and some Democrats think his retirement from local politics could mean the return of a Republican mayor. But Hornick on the ticket could also help implement a Democratic succession plan.