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Strip away all the political machinations in District 25 and you come to a simple question. Why should voters reelect Anthony M. Bucco to the state Assembly if he is not going to serve in the state Assembly?
It all has to do with arithmetic, Bucco said in a brief conversation last week.
There are 54 Democrats in the Assembly, he said. That’s out of 80, so as a third-grader could see, Democrats have a pretty huge advantage.
So, for the sake of two-party government, Republicans from Morris County need to stay in office. And that means reelecting Bucco even if he plans to move to the Senate. If Bucco wins, a GOP convention of
county committee people from the 25th District will select the new Assembly member.
For Bucco, this is a party issue pure and simple – up to a point. A vote for him is a vote for the Republican party. Additionally, he said that in a way people would be voting for him, because he “laid the foundation” for recent Republican representation from Morris County.
One man convinced of Bucco’s strategy is not an objective analyst, but a seasoned observer still the same.
That would be Jon Bramnick of Union County, the minority leader in the Assembly.
“Bucco’s going to win,” Bramnick said Monday morning at a public event in Westfield. He reasoned that voters in Morris County are not going to send more Democratic lawmakers to Trenton to support Phil Murphy.
There are some nuances here. A lot of the Democrats in the Legislature are not supporting Murphy’s key initiatives. But you can see Bramnick’s overall point.
Then again, Democratic candidates Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger are well-funded and have been campaigning extensively in a district that judging from recent election results may not be as solidly-Republican as it once was.
For Bucco, these are difficult times. His father, state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco died last month. The death of a parent is always tough, but in this case, it meant the need to make some quick political decisions.
Bucco’s two-pronged strategy, which quite frankly makes more sense to politicians than it does to average people, starts Tuesday night when he will be named at a Republican convention to replace his father in the Senate. He’s the only candidate.
However, given the circumstances, he said that won’t be a truly happy occasion.