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Senator Holly T. Schepisi. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Schepisi, Auth, DeFuccio win in the 39th district

By Joey Fox, November 02 2021 10:57 pm

The New Jersey Globe is projecting that State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Old Tappan), and Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River) have won re-election to the 39th legislative district.

Schepisi defeated Democrat Ruth Dugan, and Auth and DeFuccio defeated Melinda Iannuzzi and Karlito Almeda, in a suburban Bergen County district that has shown promise for Democrats on a federal level but has been more reluctant to vote for them in legislative races.

The trio of Schepisi, Auth, and DeFuccio went through a highly chaotic year to arrive at this point. Schepisi, until recently an assemblywoman, announced she would challenge State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) last winter, and ended up receiving the Passaic County GOP line – on the same day the 86-year-old Cardinale unexpectedly died.

Schepisi changed gears to run for the seat in a special election against fellow Assembly member Auth, who announced his campaign, dropped out, got back in, and ultimately lost to Schepisi by eight votes at a party convention. Schepisi and Auth then had a proxy battle for Schepisi’s vacant Assembly seat, a battle which DeFuccio, Auth’s choice, won by seven votes.

The intra-party fighting continued through the regularly scheduled primary election. Schepisi was unopposed, but she backed a slate of two Assembly candidates against Auth and DeFuccio even as she shared the Bergen County GOP line with them; her candidates ultimately lost in a landslide.

Though the slate of one-time opponents has come to something of an accord, the district may provide one final twist this year. Gov. Phil Murphy’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Rachel Wainer Apter, is currently being held up by Schepisi through senatorial courtesy; now that Schepisi has secured another term, Murphy will either have to change Schepisi’s mind, persuade Wainer Apter to move, or switch nominees entirely.

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