A week ago, Morris County Democrats announced that Jeff Grayzel will be the party’s state Senate candidate in LD-25 against incumbent Republican Anthony M. Bucco.
Republicans were watching closely.
And with little delay, the GOP quickly dispatched a statement condemning Grayzel, the mayor of Morris Township.
This, mind you, was seven months before the election. You think average people in the district are paying any attention?
No, neither do I.
For the record, the statement raised two points.
It brought up criticism of Morris Township Democrats about a year ago by John Arvanites, a fellow Democratic committee member. He reportedly complained about too much outside political influence impacting the committee’s work. Perhaps as a result, Arvanites was not endorsed by the party for reelection and didn’t run again.
The second point revolves around comments Grayzel reportedly made about the reality of property taxes going up every year.
It’s not hard to see the politics here, but the reality is pretty non-partisan. Property taxes generally go up a little each year simply because of rising “fixed costs” like utilities, insurance payments and employee contracts. This is an expected argument from Republicans, but a pretty weak one.
What really is interesting is the immediate response to Grayzel’s candidacy from the GOP. That clearly shows how the district has gone from a “slam dunk” for Republicans to a competitive contest.
The numbers bear that out. The latest district voter registration figures show Republicans with a shrinking 3,100 lead over Democrats. LD-25 covers northern and western Morris and Bernardsville in Somerset County.
Now, in regard to this race. some may say, “Hey, wait a minute, didn’t Bucco run last year?”
He did. In fact, he also ran in 2019.
This happened because of the death of his father, Anthony R. Bucco in 2019. That resulted in the younger Bucco getting reelected to the Assembly in 2019 and running in a special Senate election last year.
The Republicans’ statement points out with pride that last year Bucco got “more votes than any candidate in modern New Jersey legislative history.”
He got about 67,000 of them. But let’s not go overboard. Turnout was exceedingly high because it was a presidential election year, a time when legislative candidates do not usually run.