In a signal that Tom Kean, Jr. will not seek re-election to the State Senate in order to mount a rematch against Rep. Tom Malinowski, Summit GOP Municipal Chairman Steve Spurr announced his intent to seek a State Assembly seat in the 21st district.
“If there is an opportunity, I intend to run for Assembly this year because New Jersey needs a new generation of common-sense conservative voices like mine to make a stand,” Spurr said in a letter of intent. “The long-simmering affordability crisis has come to a boil, and Trenton Democrats are content to stand by and watch as New Jersey families bear the burden of decade after decade of indecision, overregulation, and over taxation.”
Spurr said he would only run if there is a vacancy on the Assembly ticket, noting that he would seek to replace Jon Bramnick or Nancy Munoz if they move up to the Senate race to replace Kean.
Kean, the Senate minority leader and a legislator since 2001, came within one percentage point of ousting Malinowski last November. Republicans think he has a better chance during Joe Biden’s mid-term election, rather than running on a ticket with Donald Trump.
“Our county’s convention has long been considered one of the fairest and most transparent in the state, and while the ongoing pandemic has posed countless challenges in our personal, professional, and political endeavors, we must uphold that hard-fought reputation,” Spurr said. “It is imperative that we continue our tradition of fundamental fairness, secret balloting, and clear convention rules, staying true to our roots by ensuring our convention process is executed with the same impartiality and integrity that it has exemplified in previous years.”
The 34-year-old Spurr is a former Summit Zoning Board chairman and chaired the Summit Housing Authority. The Eagle Scout once worked as an aide to U.S. Senate Frank Lautenberg more than a decade ago. He is now a management consultant working for Fortune 500 companies, according to his biography.
“My story is a New Jersey story. New Jersey is where I grew up, where I met my wife Melissa, where our two daughters were born, and where we are striving to raise our young family surrounded by our closest friends and relatives,” he said. “Sadly the fabric of that close-knit community is being slowly and at times deliberately frayed by destructive legislative priorities in Trenton.”
It is not immediately clear whether Union County Republicans intend to follow a 2011 deal that would give the Somerset GOP the next available Assembly seat. That agreement, made by party leaders no longer in office, came after redistricting put 16th district Assemblywoman Denise Coyle into the same district as Kean, Bramnick and Munoz.
Other Republicans have expressed interest in an open seat, including Peter Kane, a longtime Summit GOP leader and publisher of the Fitzgerald’s Legislative Manual. Kane has done the party a favor by running twice for freeholder.
Spurr has already picked up the endorsement of Mountainside GOP Chairman JD Bryden.
“New Jersey needs more young conservatives to speak up and stake their claim on the future of our state. Steve Spurr is a thoughtful leader who always brings a jolt of energy and enthusiasm to the table,” said Bryden, who also chairs the Union County Young Republicans. :I’m glad he is adding his voice as a candidate for Assembly.”
If he runs, Spurr will also have the backing of Summit Councilman Steve Bowman.
“I’ve worked closely with Steve here in Summit and I’m excited to see him running for the Assembly,” Bowman said. “Union County needs more leaders like Steve, who I trust will be a voice for young families staring down New Jersey’s affordability crisis.”