The only Republican even actively considering a challenge to Tom Kean, Jr. in the ’06 primary has been Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio, but now the Morris County conservative seems more likely to run for the soon-to-be-open 26th district State Senate seat. Robert Martin announced two weeks ago that he would not seek re-election to the Senate seat he has held since 1993, and Pennacchio has immediately been anointed as the front runner to succeed him. Republicans are already positioning themselves to run for Pennacchio’s Assembly seat; possible candidates include: attorney Jay Webber, a former congressional aide that mounted a strong challenge to Martin in the 2003 GOP primary; attorney Richard De Angelis, a former Executive Director of the Morris County Republican Committee who managed John Murphy’s 2005 campaign for Governor; Kinnelon Councilman Larry Casha, who ran against Pennacchio in a 2001 special election convention when Carol Murphy resigned to become a BPU Commissioner; and Chatham Councilwoman Cordelia Fuller. Some Republicans speculate that there could be two open Assembly seats in this district, if 69-year-old Alex DeCroce decides to retire. Talk of a DeCroce retirement will increase exponentially if he loses a bid for re-election as Assembly Minority Leader, or if the GOP loses seats this year.