Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Maywood) is dropping his bid for an open State Senate seat, clearing the way for Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) to succeed departing incumbent Bob Gordon, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Eustace’s decision to end his short-lived Senate campaign came after a meeting with Bergen County Democratic Chairman Louis Stellato, Adam Alonso, Gov. Phil Murphy’s deputy chief of staff and top political strategist, and Lagana. This is a big win for Stellato and Murphy, who have worked together to avoid a fight over the 38th district Senate seat. Eustace is endorsing Lagana.
Gordon has filed his letter of resignation from the Senate. He is expected to take his seat as a Commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities as soon as his nomination is confirmed by the Senate. That clears the way for Lagana to move to the Senate quickly — Stellato can call a special election convention as early as April 14. That sets in motion another special election for Lagana’s Assembly seat; Stellato is expected to endorse Bergenfield Council President Arvin Amatorio for that seat, and no other candidates are expected to run.
Update: In a statement released this morning, Eustace endorsed Lagana for Senate: “I have seen firsthand the tenaciousness with which Joe Lagana has fought for the people he serves, both in the New Jersey Assembly and previously as a councilman in Paramus. It is his unwavering commitment to our communities that has made him a great legislative partner and I am proud to give him my full support to be our next State Senator in the 38th Legislative District. I look forward to continuing to work alongside him just as we’ve done for the past four years. From fighting for education resources to protect our children’s future, to strengthening our local economy, and securing funding for essential local projects, Joe Lagana has stood up for the values and ideals we hold dear. I have no doubt that he will make an outstanding State Senator and continue to be a strong, tireless advocate for District 38 families.”