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Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) this afternoon administered the office to Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25), who last week at a special convention formally landed the seat left behind by Senator Tony Bucco (R-25).
“Aura Dunn is a blessing to this house,” Assembly Republican Leader Jon Branick (R-21) said this afternoon on the floor off the assembly.
“I look forward to working with you,” Coughlin told the governing body’s newest member.
Husband Harry and son Sullivan joined Dunn in the well when she assumed the oath of office.
In her remarks to the assembly, the Republican lawmaker – a former district director for former U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) – said she was proud to join Assemblywoman Betty Lou De Croce (R-26) as the second female legislator from Morris County.
“Today marks an historic occasion,” she added, “as we mark [that moment in the assembly] with the most women legislators in history.”
The observation prompted sustained applause.
Coughlin welcomed Bucco to the occasion, then told him to get out.
“These social climbers,” he cracked.
In a statement, Bucco said, “I’m excited to be joined by Aura Dunn in representing the 25th Legislative District in Trenton. With her years of hands-on experience in public policy and as Congressman Frelinghuysen’s district director, Aura knows the issues that matter most to the people we serve in Morris County and beyond. I have no doubt she’ll hit the ground running after her swearing-in today.”
Dunn prevailed on the first ballot at a special convention to fill the LD25 vacancy in the Assembly.
This was for the seat left behind by Senator Tony Bucco (R-25), which he won on Nov. 5th but abandoned to fill the senate seat left behind by his father, who died this fall.
In the end it was no contest.
Dunn’s support was so convincing Thursday night that a second ballot was not needed.
Dunn, a onetime aide to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, crushed the competition and won an open District 25 Assembly seat with more than 70 percent of the vote. The other five candidates in the race to replace now Senator Anthony M. Bucco were not even in hailing distance.
Dunn, who lost in the primary last June, took note of the six-person field, saying it was time to join together and to fight Gov. Phil Murphy’s agenda.
In her speech before the vote, Dunn lambasted the alleged socialistic flavor of the Murphy administration. Dunn will be sworn in Monday and will complete Bucco’s term, which runs through January. Another convention will then be held to pick an Assembly person to fill the term that begins next year. Keep in mind that Bucco won that seat this month, but will not accept it because he has moved to the Senate to replace his late father.
Dunn was endorsed by three of the seven freeholders – Kathy DeFillippo, Doug Cabana and Steve Shaw. This follows an earlier endorsement of her by onetime Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who has spent much of the year out of the public eye.