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MENDHAM TWP. – It’s taken for granted – rightly or wrongly – that Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco will survive this June’s GOP primary in District 25.
But is he going to endorse and run with any of the three other Republicans vying for the district’s second nomination?
Friday night, Bucco appeared at the campaign kickoff for one of those candidates, Aura Dunn. Bucco’s attendance was significant in a political way, but there was no endorsement.
“I look forward to a good relationship with all of the candidates who are running,” he said. The others are Brian Bergen and John Barbarula.
Then Bucco looked forward to November and vowed that Democrats in the mostly Morris County district will see a Republican campaign they have never seen before.
It also is a sign of the changing political landscape. Not too long ago, Morris Republicans didn’t need to run much of a campaign at all to win. Now they do.
The Democratic candidates are Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger. By sheer coincidence, they kicked off their campaign about four months ago at the Brookside Community Center, the very same locale Dunn used Friday night.
Campaign kickoff speeches are not always inspiring, but Dunn’s was a grade above the norm.
Rather than just talk about the need to invest more in education and to combat the opioid epidemic, Dunn pointed to from where the money could come. She said a state that gives tax breaks and other
incentives to large corporations should be able to find funds for more basic needs.
She used the infamous Xanadu (now American Dream Meadowlands) development near Metlife Stadium as an example. While this project long has drawn condemnation, (probably because it looked ugly) a state committee is now looking into New Jersey’s entire business incentive program.
Dunn talked about the need for “civility” in politics. saying, “I am that person and I will be that leader.” She also unveiled a campaign sign, “Aura ‘gets it’ Dunn.”
Up until a few months ago, Dunn was an aide to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, working in his Morristown office. She is now running for a seat he held himself all those years ago.
One might think that connection would prompt the suddenly reclusive Frelinghuysen to publicly help his former employee. Don’t bet on it.