It’s not like people didn’t see it coming — Rodney Frelinghuysen is 71 and has ever faced a tough general election in 44 years of running for office. So that fact that he has decided to retire after 24 years in Congress isn’t shocking.
Now Republicans need to scramble to find a successor in a district that has suddenly become more competitive and where the front runner for the Democratic nomination, former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill, has already raised more than a million dollars.
In the last Republican primary, 60% of the votes came out of Morris County. Essex and Passaic each make up 16% of the GOP primary votes, with 8% coming out of Sussex. It’s important to note that Morris County does not have an organization line, but Essex and Passaic do. If a viable Morris County candidate were to secure the backing of Essex and Passaic — that’s done through Essex GOP Chairman Al Barlas and Totowa Republican Municipal Chairman Peter Murphy — that candidate would be the immediate front-runner.
Two potential candidates already represent districts that includes parts of Morris, Essex and Passaic counties: State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains).
Other possible names in the mix includes Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) and former Morris County Freeholder John Murphy.
One insider says that Jerry Langer, a wealthy Republican businessman from Montville who has raised money for GOP candidates, could also emerge as a candidate.