The announcement that Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) will not seek re-election to a 13th term in the State Assembly next year is likely to create a scramble for a rare open seat in Morris County.
Carroll’s 25th district seat has been all-Republican since 1979, but Democrats came close to an upset there last year. State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) was re-elected to a seventh term with just 52% and Carroll and his running mate, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) won by about 2,500 votes. The general election will be no shoo-in for Republicans.
Bucco will also need to defend his Assembly seat in what could be a crowded primary in a county that has no organization line. Bernardsville, the only Somerset County town in the district, produced 177 votes for Bucco in the 2015 primary. Somerset has a line, which makes County Chairman Al Gaburo moderately important in the process.
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. To make things even more confusing, Cabana and Assemblyman Bucco are brothers-in-law who don’t get along. The last time this seat was open, in 2009, they ran against each other.
Cabana would be considered the front-runner if he decided to seek the Assembly seat. He could also opt to seek re-election to his freeholder seat.
SaveJersey reported today that Denville Councilman Brian Bergen, a West Point graduate and Army combat veteran, is actively exploring a bid for the Republican Assembly nomination.
Republican insiders have mentioned ten other names as possible Assembly candidates: Freeholders Heather Darling (R-Roxbury), 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; and Mine Hill Mayor Sam Morris.
Businessman Peter DeNeufville could also run for Assembly if he falls short in his bid for Congress in the June primary. Another possible candidate: retiring Parsippany Business Administrator Ellen Sandman, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Mayor of Denville.
The primary for an open Assembly seat could impact the 2019 race for Morris County Freeholder if incumbents Cabana and DeFillippo run for another office. It’s possible that the third freeholder up next year, Tom Mastrangelo, runs for State Assembly in the neighboring 26th district.