Brian Bergen’s bid for the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 25th district received a boost with endorsements from all six of his colleagues on the township council.
Bergen, a West Point graduate who flew Army helicopters in Iraq, is the first declared candidate in the race to succeed Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) in 2019. Carroll has said he will not run for re-election to a 13th term in the Assembly and is planning to run for Morris County Surrogate instead.
“Brian Bergen has the energy, focus and passion to push forward the issues most important to the people of Morris County,” said Denville mayor Tom Andes. “He will be the perfect complement in the Legislature to Assemblyman Anthony Bucco.”
Joining Andes on the endorsement were council president Doug Gabel, councilmen Gary Boroweic, Glenn Buie and John Murphy, and councilwomen Stephanie Lyden and Nancy Witte.
“We need people in the Assembly who draw people together and get things done. This early endorsement shows that I can quickly earn the respect and support from my peers,” Bergen said. “The legislature needs people who can bridge the gaps in differences and gain compromise. This early show of support is testament to my ability to accomplish that.”
The 25th district, which includes 20 towns in Morris County and Bernardsville in Somerset County, has become more politically competitive in recent years. In 2017, Democrat Lisa Bhimani held eight-term State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) to just 52%. Democrats are expected to make a serious play for the two Assembly seats.
Incumbent Assemblyman Antony Bucco, the son of the senator, will also need to defend his Assembly seat in what could be a crowded primary in a county that has no organization line.
Freeholder Douglas Cabana (R-Boonton) is considered a possible candidate against Carroll in the Surrogate primary, but some Republican leaders say that he could run for the Assembly instead.
Republican insiders have mentioned other names as possible Assembly candidates: Freeholders Deborah Smith (R-Denville) and Kathy DeFillippo (R-Roxbury); Morris Township Mayor Peter Mancuso; former congressional aide Kate Whitman; Morris Township Committeeman Bruce Sisler; Mendham Township Committeewoman Sarah Niebart; former Roxbury Mayor Tim Smith; Randolph Councilman Jim Loveys; Mine Hill Mayor Sam Morris; retiring Parsippany business administrator Ellen Sandman; and former congressional candidate Peter DeNeufville.
Freeholder Heather Darling (R-Roxbury) has already said she won’t run for the seat.