Republican Frank Blee will step down as the Assembly Minority Whip — the number three post in the GOP leadership — and Jon Bramnick of Union County appears to be the favorite to succeed him. Blee, who won just 39% of the vote in his bid for State Senate at a Special Election Convention in February, has decided not to seek re-election to an eighth term in the lower house. Some Republican legislators had privately urged Blee's ouster after the Atlantic County Republican said he would back Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan for State Senate against GOP incumbent James "Sonny" McCullough.
Assembly Republicans will also have to fill a second leadership post: Francis Bodine has stepped down as Assistant Minority Leader. Bodine switched parties last month and is now running for the State Senate as a Democrat. Samuel Thompson of Middlesex County is expected to get the leadership post. That means the Assembly GOP is switching two South Jerseyans named Francis for two legislators from the North. And a Thompson-for-Bodine switch means that the Republicans are replacing a 71-year-old Assemblyman for someone five months older.
Bramnick is viewed as a potential star in the Assembly GOP caucus, and some insiders suggest that he 54-year-old trial lawyer — relatively young for a Republican legislator — is well-positioned to rise in leadership after Alex DeCroce and Peter Biondi have run their course.