Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has endorsed Democrat Rupande Mehta for State Senate in the 25th district special election, the first real indication so far that state Democratic leaders are showing an interest in ousting state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton).
Bucco won a special election convention for State Senate last October to replace his father, State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton). The elder Bucco had served in the legislature since 1995 and died of a massive heart attack in September.
Bucco’s death came days after the deadline to let the voters pick a new senator. Despite moving up to the Senate, the younger Bucco remained on the ballot and was re-elected to a State Assembly seat he had no intention of taking.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial to encourage and support women to run for office which is why I am endorsing Rupande Mehta,” Weinberg said. “In order to continue to combat New Jersey’s toxic political culture, we need representation that reflects New Jersey residents.”
So far, the Mehta campaign has been without the typical infrastructure that comes when state Democrats decide to target an incumbent senator. Senate Democrats have not devoted any significant resources into the race yet.
In a July filing with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Mehta reported raising $52,914 and has $31,387 cash-on-hand. Bucco raised $212,784 and has $70,957 in the bank.
At around the same point in 2017, the last time Democrats ousted a Republican state senator, Vin Gopal had raised $401,197.
One of Gopal’s top operatives, Kinn Badger, is managing Mehta’s Senate campaign.
Mehta defeated former Morris Township Mayor Jeff Grayzel by two votes at the Morris County Democratic convention in March.
Bucco won his Assembly seat by 3,057 votes in 2019. He was replaced in the Assembly by Aura Dunn (R-Mendham). She is also running in a special election this November for the remaining fourteen months of Bucco’s Assembly term and faces farmer Darcy Draeger. Draeger had challenged Bucco last year.
“I know Rupande will protect our core democratic values by standing up for a woman’s right to choose, the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, all people of color, and standing by DREAMERS,” said Weinberg.