The Eventual Winner in Morris for the LD25 Seat


ATLANTIC CITY – Hard to say how many votes there were Tuesday night at the party at the Tropicana, but those circulating among the crowd included Sarah Neibart, who is one of six candidates seeking convention support to replace Anthony M. Bucco in the Assembly.

A key part of any election campaign is “pressing the flesh,” but let’s face it, in this election, the only voters are GOP committee members from the 25th District. Some of them obviously were at this week’s League of Municipalities Convention, but who knows how many.

At any rate, as I made the rounds at the gathering, I got a release on behalf of candidate Aura Dunn. It’s good to see that Morris County politics follows you wherever you go.

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.

For what it’s worth, Freeholder Deb Smith said a few days ago that she’s supporting Niebart, as is Freeholder John Krickus. So, as you can see, there is no unanimity over this among the freeholders.

This is merely a convention election, but the Morris County Republican Committee to its credit is giving it a lot of attention.

The website of the Morris GOP offers bios of all six candidates, giving each a chance to sell their attributes. They’re not all the same, party allegiance notwithstanding.

For example, John Barbarula says he represents “true conservative principles.”

Alison Deeb calls herself a “moderate Republican,” while stressing a fiscal conservative approach.

Dunn says she’s willing “to fight for you in Trenton.”

Neibart stresses her work with Citizens for Accountable Taxation or CAT, a group she founded to look for ways to reduce New Jersey property taxes.

The other two candidates are largely unknown in Morris political circles.

Al Ribeiro of Bernardsville – the only non-Morris town in the district – says he is experienced in bringing people together “to find solutions to challenging problems.”

And then there is Bob Olejar, who says his background as a lawyer and forensic accountant gives him a “unique perspective” on issues.

The eventual winner on Thursday night won’t have all that much time to get acclimated to the ways of Trenton. The winner will serve only until mid-January when Bucco’s current term expires. Another convention then will be needed to fill the seat that Bucco, who is now in the Senate, won’t be filling in 2020. The same person certainly can be picked again.

And if that is not enough, the seat comes up for election again next year – by the voters, not a convention.

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