Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley is preparing to run for Congress next year, either against ten-term incumbent Frank Pallone, Jr., or for an open seat if Pallone runs for the United States Senate. Pallone has spent the last year seeking support for the Senate seat to be vacated in January by Governor-elect Jon Corzine. The 47-year-old Oxley served as an Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor and as Mayor of Middletown before winning election as Sheriff in 1996. He was re-elected with 59% of the vote in 2004. Pallone, who won re-election in 2004 with 67% of the vote in a district that John Kerry carried with 57%, has not faced a serious Republican challenge since State Senator Joseph Kyrillos ran in 1992. If Pallone does not seek re-election, possible Democratic candidates include: State Senator Barbara Buono, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and Maggie Moran, a Democratic strategist who served as Senator Corzine’s State Director. State Senator Ellen Karcher could also run (she grew up in the Middlesex County portion of the district), even though her she lives in the part of Marlboro that is in the 12th district — and Assemblyman Michael Panter, who appears to have won re-election to a second term, might move into the district in order to run. Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula of Somerset County had formed a campaign committee earlier this year in case Pallone does not run, but he has clearly offended Pallone allies by publicly calling on Corzine to appoint Robert Menendez to the Senate.