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Russo, Wisniewski casting final votes

By David Wildstein, January 08 2018 1:28 pm

Two of the most senior members of the New Jersey State Assembly will cast their final votes today, on 146 bills, more or less.

David Russo (R-Bergen) and John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), did not seek re-election.

The Dean of the Assembly, Russo was first elected in 1989 after defeating incumbent Walter Kern in the Republican primary.   A few weeks after winning a sixth term, Kern, an attorney, was disbarred for taking money from a client’s trust fund.  Kern had his Judiciary Committee chairmanship taken away, but refused to resign.  Under indictment, he ran again in 1989 and finished last in a five-candidate race.  Russo beat Passaic County Freeholder Richard DuHaime by 4,326 votes.

Wisniewski lost his first Assembly bid in 1993, coming within 400 votes of unseating freshman Republican Ernie Oros.  He ran again in 1995, when Democrats were able to unseat the two 19th district GOP incumbents.  Wisniewski was the top vote-getter, and outpolled Oros by 7,594 votes.

Russo ran for Congress in 2002, after Marge Roukema retired.  He finished second in the Republican primary, losing to Assemblyman Scott Garrett (R-Sussex) by a 45%-26% margin.  State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), finished 190 votes behind Russo; the two split the Bergen primary vote, enabling Garrett to win.

Wisniewski sought the Democratic nomination for Governor last year.  He finished third in a six-candidate field with 21.6% of the vote, behind Phil Murphy (48.4%) and Jim Johnson (21.9%).

The departures of Russo and Wisniewski means that the most senior members of the Assembly will be Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), Louis Greenwald (D-Camden), and Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer).  All were elected in 1995.

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