Pennacchio taps Morris GOP chairman to run U.S. Senate exploratory committee

Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio today announced that he has formed an exploratory committee for a possible bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination next year.

Pennacchio says that Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette will head the exploratory effort. He did not release the names of any other supporters, although another potential candidate, Assemblyman Michael Doherty, dropped out of the race last month and endorsed Pennacchio.

The Morris County dentist, who has served in the State Assembly since 2001, is currently a candidate for State Senator in the 26th district.

"So far I am cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a run for the nomination," said Pennacchio, who has been testing the waters for a possible challenge to Frank Lautenberg in 2008. "However, my first priority will be to secure victory in November to the State Senate."

"My personal desire is to run for the nomination next spring but I need time to evaluate the necessary resources and logistical operations that are required," Pennacchio said.

Anne Evans Estabrook, a real estate developer and former New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Chair, is the only other candidate pursuing the GOP Senate nomination.

Pennacchio taps Morris GOP chairman to run U.S. Senate exploratory committee