Anthony M. Bucco will be sworn-in as a state senator next Tuesday.
He will then need to resign his Assembly seat.
But he will remain on the Nov. 5 ballot for reelection to the Assembly, as was confirmed by the state Division of Elections.
If some of this doesn’t seem to make sense, it’s because it probably doesn’t.
The political ramifications to this arrangement impact both parties.
But before we get there, let’s look at how things are transpiring.
When Bucco was chosen without opposition Tuesday night at a convention of Republican committee members from District 25 to replace his late father, the practical question was, when will he actually become a senator?
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the majority Senate Democrats said Bucco will be sworn to his Senate seat next Tuesday. One can not be both a senator and an Assembly member simultaneously, so Bucco will have to resign from the Assembly.
But he will remain on the Assembly ballot.
It’s true it is too late to remove a name from the ballot and presumably replace one candidate with another. While that happened years ago with the Lautenberg-Torricelli switch, it took a court order.
Another distinction is that Bucco will resign from the Assembly term that expires Jan. 13, 2020. The term for which he is running doesn’t commence until Jan. 14 of next year. So, technically,, Bucco will be seeking an Assembly seat he doesn’t have.
Nonetheless, manipulation of this type may have consequences.
The GOP Assembly ballot in District 25 will now consist of newcomer Brian Bergen and Senator Anthony M. Bucco.
If Bucco wins, the same group of county committee folk who convened Tuesday night will do so again to pick the district’s next Assembly member. Two Republicans who seem interested are Aura Dunn and John Barbarula, who both ran unsuccessfully in last June’s primary. But because of the vacancy, there will be a special Assembly election next year; and also a special Senate election next year.
A spokesperson for Democratic Assembly candidates Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger called on Bucco to publicly announce who he wants to replace him in the Assembly.
As it is now, voters will choose among Democrats Bhimani and Draeger, Republican Bergen and in effect, an unknown Republican.
Sure, the Dems are playing politics, but it’s not a bad point. Voters should know for whom they are voting.
But if recent history is any guide, they better not hold their breath. Bucco, some may recall, never endorsed a candidate in last June’s primary.
Editor’s Note: Bucco said Wednesday night that the scheduled Tuesday swearing-in may not work because a family member he wants at the ceremony will be out of town. He said he’s talking to the Senate leadership about another day to take the oath, but he declined to elaborate.