DENVILLE – Darkness was falling Monday night when Anthony M. Bucco looked over what was now an empty golf course at the Rockaway River Country Club and said, “Hard to believe it’s been 25 years.”
This was near the conclusion of this year’s Bucco golf outing fundraiser, an event that began, yes, 25 years ago when the host was the senator’s late father of the same name except for the middle initial. The elder Bucco, who died in 2019, was Anthony R. Bucco.
Since its start in the late 1990’s at the Knoll Country Club in Parsippany and its eventual move to the Rockaway River club, the golf outing has been a signature event on the Morris County political circuit. About 200 attended this year’s event, which was among the best ever. Golf is played during the day and there are cocktails and dinner in the evening.
Those with a sense of history had to chuckle when James Gannon, the county sheriff, said that when
“Tony is in Trenton, you’re in Trenton.”
That saying was first used about three decades ago when the senior Bucco was running for what was then the Assembly.
Like his father, Bucco is no ideologue.
He leans right, as most Republicans do, but he still tends to see problems and issues through a practical lens.
As a result of that, perhaps, a handful of Democrats were in attendance, including Bill Kersey, a past county Democratic chair.
This was, of course, a political event, but then again, it wasn’t.
There were no political speeches. Bucco thanked his supporters for allowing him to continue his mission of serving the public.
Through an unusual set of circumstances that began with his father’s passing, Bucco wound up running in three general elections in a row from 2019 through 2021. He gets a respite this year, but when he next runs, it will be in a slightly reconfigured 25th District. It will continue to tilt Republican, but the GOP registration advantage is not enormous, which necessitates the importance of fundraising.
Many GOP luminaries were on hand, including Jack Ciattarelli, Jon Bramnick and the CD-11 candidate Paul DeGroot. None spoke.
This was quite the departure from last year when Chris Christie, who seldom attends local political events, was invited to speak.
The former governor, an old law school classmate of Bucco, used the opportunity to lambaste Phil Murphy as the “master of death” (this was still during the pandemic) and he urged Ciattarelli not to be too nice a guy on the campaign trail.
There is a key election upcoming this year as well, but on this evening, there was no fierce rhetoric.
And that was a good thing. Why spoil the peaceful mood?