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GOP field for Frelinghuysen seat

By David Wildstein

Today marks the one-week anniversary of Rodney Frelinghuysen’s decision to retire from Congress.  Republicans are trying to sort out the field – with new names still entering the mix – but most understand that there’s a point where this all begins to resemble a reality TV show.

Some Republican insiders are privately expressing anger toward Frelinghuysen, who left his party with a very short runway between his announcement and the April filing deadline.  The 71-year-old congressman is sitting on a $1.4 million warchest – partly accumulated through decades of safe districts – and few Republicans expect him to use the money to help them hold his seat.

Frelinghuysen loyalists say he would have won the election, but there is a widespread belief that the decision not to run was based on a concern that he would lose.  That question might be answered in the April, if the congressman’s his 1st quarter report shows payment for a January poll.  By then, nobody will care why he’s leaving.

As the race begins to settle down, here’s the extended short list of Republican candidates:

ANNOUNCED:
* Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), a former Republican State Chairman who represents parts of Morris, Essex and Passaic counties. Webber announced on Saturday that he was “all in.”
* Martin Hewitt, an attorney who was challenging Frelinghuysen in the Republican primary.

CLOSE TO RUNNING:
* State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville), who easily carried Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties when he ran in the 2008 U.S. Senate primary – and ran a strong second in Essex.  He is also a former Freeholder who ran countywide in Morris.

* Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton), part of the Bucco family dynasty.

* Jerry Langer, the wealthy trucking company owner from Montville who played a key role in Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s gubernatorial campaign.

SERIOUSLY EXPLORING:
* State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Little Falls), a former two-term Passaic County Clerk who won an Bergen-Passaic-Essex-Morris State Senate seat in a 2017 special election.

EXPLORING:
* Kate Whitman Annis, the daughter of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and a candidate for Congress in 2008.  She lives in Morristown and works as a Woman’s Hockey Coach for Pingry.

* Nicolas Platt, a former Mayor and current Township Committeeman in Harding, who comes from an old-line Republican family.

OTHERS DOING THE EXPLORING
* Morris County Freeholder Christie Myers, a Trump SBA official who was being urged to run by the Chris Christie wing of the Republican party.

JUST LIKES BEING ON SHORT LISTS
* Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany)
* Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo

JUST RUMORS, MAYBE
* Montclair Councilman Bill Hurlock
* Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas
* Former Morris County Freeholder John Murphy
* Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township)
* Rosemary Becchi, an attorney from Short Hills
* Roxbury Councilman Tim Smith
* Sussex County Freeholder Sylvia Petillo

IN AND OUT BEFORE YOU COULD BLINK
* Joe Caruso, a Wayne businessman and former Assembly candidate
* Justin Bozonelis, an investment banker and son of an ex-Judge.

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