The 2008 Class of new Republican state senators featured a bench of stars intent on re-branding a GOP damaged by a then-limping Republican President George W. Bush.
Of the nine who rose nearly a decade ago, five are running for reelection this year.
Let’s take a look:
In LD8, Having beaten former Republican Assemblyman Fran Bodine, who switched parties to run for the state senate, Phil Haines was sworn into office, but departed a few years later to become a judge. Assemblywoman Dawn Addiego moved up to replace Haines.
In LD9, Ocean County’s Chris Connors moved up to take the senate seat of his late father, Leonard Connors. He will run for reelection this year.
In LD11, Assemblyman Sean Kean of Wall moved up to the state senate, but found himself a victim of 2011 redistricting and crunched on a Democratic map into LD30. Rather than challenge Senator Bob Singer, Kean went back to the assembly.
In LD12, Assemblywoman Jen Beck of Red Bank beat incumbent Senator Ellen Karcher ten years ago, and now looks to retain her seat against Democratic challenger Vin Gopal. Beck last year opposed the gas tax hike championed by her fellow Class of 2008 senate mate, Steve Oroho (see below).
In LD14, Assemblyman Bill Baroni moved up to succeed retiring Senator Pete Inverso in the upper house. Rather than run for reelection in 2011 as a pro-public sector unions Republican in the Christie era, Baroni took a job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Now he faces sentencing for his role in the Bridgegate scandal.
In LD16, Christopher “Kip” Bateman moved up to the state senate and is running for reelection this year in a battleground assembly district. Sources in both parties say that Bateman will have to pay attention, and can’t take the contest for granted, but note that his moderate positions on issues, including high marks from enviornmental groups in addition to high area name ID make him a very, very tough out.
In LD24, the retirement of veteran Senator Robert Littel created a ferocious Republican Primary pitting Assemblyman Guy Gregg against businessman Steve Oroho. Weakened by his support for a cigarette tax, Gregg lost the seat to Oroho. Now, perhaps ironically, Oroho faces reelection against Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus, who will try to unseat the incumbent by jabbing at his support for a gas tax hike as part of the fix for the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
In LD26, Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio moved up to take the senate seat. He’s running for reelection this year amid rumors of a challenge by Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo.
In LD40, Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole took out Bergen County’s Todd Caliguire in the GOP Primary for a vacant seat. Not running for reelection this year, O’Toole is bound for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey pending his approval as a commissioner.