Three GOP Freeholders are likeliest candidates for Van Pelt seat

Watch for leaders in both parties to call for the resignation of freshman Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean Township), who was arrested today on federal corruption charges as part of a sweep that also included two Democratic mayors in Hudson County and the Jersey City Council President.

Van Pelt, 44, won an open ninth district Assembly seat in 2007 after Christopher Connors moved up to the State Senate. He was also the Mayor of Ocean Township, a post he held from 2003 to 2009.

If Van Pelt resigns, the Ocean County Republican Committee will hold a special election convention to fill his seat and replace him on the fall ballot. Possible candidates include: Ocean County Freeholders Gerry Little, Jack Kelly, and John Bartlett.

Kelly sought the GOP nomination for Congress in 2008. If he goes to the Legislature, he could wind up serving with the Republican who defeated him, Christopher Myers. Myers is considered a leading candidate to replace State Sen. Phil Haines (R-Springfield), who is seeking a Superior Court judgeship.

Van Pelt will no longer be an obscure, back bench legislator as he enters what might be his final days in office. Republicans, who were boisterous in their calls for Sharpe James, Wayne Bryant, Mims Hackett, Alfred Steele and Joseph Vas to resign their public offices after they were arrested, will have no choice but to pressure the freshman Ocean County Republican to quit.

Three GOP Freeholders are likeliest candidates for Van Pelt seat