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Assemblyman Ronald Dancer. (Photo: Assembly Minority Office).

Four Republicans already looking at bid for Dancer’s Assembly seat

Jackson councilman began calling GOP leaders on Monday

By David Wildstein, July 26 2022 12:42 am

At least four Republicans are mulling a bid for a State Assembly seat in the 12th district left vacant by the death of 11-term incumbent Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted) on Saturday, with more potential candidates likely to emerge over the next few days.

Jackson Council President Alex Sauickie III began calling party officials on Monday seeking support for Dancer’s seat, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Sauickie is the first candidate from Jackson to get in the race, albeit unofficially, but he might not be the last.  Jackson Republicans are fractured and it’s not clear if a candidate from one of the other factions will emerge.

“I wanted to get a sense from the chairs on their thoughts,” Sauickie said.  “I got some good feedback.”

He also paid tribute to Dancer.

“I aspire to be Ron Dancer,” said Sauickie.  “I looked at him as someone who set the bar very high.  I think it is something I’ve done in Jackson.”

Brian Kubiel, a member of the Plumsted Utilities Authority who served as a Toms River councilman for sixteen years.

“I would put my name in for it,” said Kubiel, the chief administrator of the Toms River Fire Department and the head of the Berkeley Township Fire Prevention Bureau.

Also testing the waters for Dancer’s seat is Englishtown Councilman Daniel Francisco.

“I’m seriously considering it, but nothing definite” he told the New Jersey Globe.

Francisco had sought the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district before Englishtown was redistricted into the 3rd.  He sought the Republican nomination for Monmouth County Commissioner in the June primary on a line headed by congressional candidate Mike Crispi but was unsuccessful.

Another potential candidate is Plumsted Township Committeeman Dominick Cuozzo, the pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in New Egypt and a supporter of George Gilmore’s successful bid for Ocean County GOP Chairman.   He might be a tough lift for Republicans in Monmouth,  Middlesex, part of Jackson.

Republican leaders in the four counties that comprise the 12th – Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean – have not yet set a date for the special election convention to fill Dancer’s seat.  They have from between 7  to 35 days from the date of Dancer’s passing.

Read Joey Fox’s analysis of how many special election convention vote each county holds.

The next election will be held within under the 2011 congressional map, which remains in force until the 2023 race.  The elongated district goes from Middlesex to Burlington, with views of Staten Island and the Pinelands.

Eleven years ago, when the map-drawing panel approved the new 12th, there was no incumbent senator and three sitting Republican assemblymen: Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge), Robert Clifton (R-Matawan), and Dancer.  The four county chairman agreed that Thompson and Middlesex would get the Senate seat.

The district includes: Old Bridge in Middlesex; Allentown, Englishtown, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone, Roosevelt and Upper Freehold in Monmouth; Jackson and Plumsted in Ocean; and Chesterfield, New Hanover, North Hanover and Wrightstown in Burlington.

Republicans also must decide if they will pick their nominee for a November special election concurrently with the special election convention, or if they will hold a separate meeting before the September 15 deadline.

Increasingly on Monday, it looked like there was a willingness to continue the deal that gave one of the Assembly seats to Ocean County.

Democrats have until September 15 to nominate a candidate to run in the solidly-Republican district.

The winner of the special election convention will be sworn in at the next Assembly session, although that could be expedited.  Last year, Speaker Craig Coughlin privately administered the oath of office to Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River) after she had won a special election convention in the 39th district during the Assembly’s budget break.

Dancer had lost two State Assembly races before winning a special election convention in 2002 to replace Mel Cottrell (R-Jackson), who died in office.

Editor’s note:  this story was updated at 9:12 AM with comment from Sauickie.  

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