Morris County’s Senate seats

Editor’s note: State Senator Anthony Bucco says he is “definitely seeking re-election” to the State Senate in 2007, and reports that he unsuccessfully challenged Leonard Lance for Minority Leader at the Senate Republican reogranization meeting last week. Anthony Bucco’s loss to Leonard Lance for Senate Minority Leader last week is leading some Morris County Republicans to think that the 67-year-old Bucco might not seek a fourth term in 2007. That would mean both of Morris County’s Senate seats would be open in the next election. If Bucco were to retire, there is no shortage of potential candidates to replace him: Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll and Richard Merkt and Freeholders John Murphy (who carried the district handily in his ’05 run for Governor) and Freehold John Inglesino, the former Mayor of Rockaway. Murphy could find an interim stint in the Senate helpful toward his expected ’09 gubernatorial campaign, if he were able to clear the field — but a divisive primary, win or lose, could threaten his Morris County base. One Morris GOP insider said Murphy would be unlikely to run for the Assembly if Carroll and/or Merkt ran for Senate. Inglesino would emerge as the leading contender for an open Assembly seat. Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio is the favorite to win the 26th district Senate seat, where Robert Martin is retiring. Candidates are already lining up for the open Assembly seat: Jay Webber, who challenged Martin in the ’03 primary; Richard DeAngelis, a former Morris County Republican Committee Executive Director who managed Murphy’s campaign for Governor; Kinnelon Councilman Larry Casha, who ran against Pennacchio in a 2001 Special Election Convention; and Florham Park Councilman Joseph Morano.

Morris County’s Senate seats