Former Saddle River Board of Education President Ruth Dugan will seek the Democratic nomination for State Senate in the 39th district.
She will face either Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) or Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan), depending on who Republicans pick to fill the seat of Gerald Cardinale, a 12-term state senator who died last month at age 86.
Dugan is the wife of James P. Dugan, a legendary 1970s Bayonne politician who spent six years in the State Senate – four of them as chairman of the Judiciary Committee – and was Democratic State Chairman during the first four years of Brendan Byrne’s governorship.
She served as chair of the Bayonne Medical Center at a time when the local hospital was on the brink of bankruptcy, and has been involved in multiple community organizations.
For the Assembly, Democrats are expected to nominate Demarest Mayor Melinda Iannuzzi and Karlito Almeda, a 25-year-old aide to Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.
Iannuzzi became the first woman mayor of Demarest when she unseated GOP incumbent Ray Cywinski in 2018. Almeda worked for Rep. Bill Pascrell and made a strong bid for councilman in Mahwah five years ago while still a student at Ramapo College
It’s still not clear who the two new Republican Assembly candidates might be, although Auth could wind up running for re-election if Schepisi wins the March 9 special election convention to replace Cardinale.
One potential candidate takes the race full circle back to James Dugan: Upper Saddle River Councilwoman DeAnne DeFuccio, who is seeking the GOP Assembly nomination, is the granddaughter of William F. Kelly, a Jersey City Democrat who served 16 years in the New Jersey State Senate – the last two with Dugan as his running mate.