Assembly Minority Conference Leader Peter Biondi said he is considering running for Congress to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson, but he’s having a tough time making a decision.
“Your ego says ‘Yes, this is great,’ but there are a lot of variables you have to consider,” said Biondi.
Meanwhile, his running mate, Assemblyman/state Senator-Elect Kip Bateman, said he will not run for Congress and will support Biondi if he does.
“I’m excited about going to the New Jersey state Senate. I have young children and the Washington seat doesn’t appeal to me at all,” said Bateman, who also said he wouldn’t want to give up his law practice. “If Pete (Biondi) is a candidate, then I would certainly support him.”
Biondi said that he’s unsure whether he wants to commit to raising millions of dollars and taking on a job that would cost him more time with his family, including his two young grandchildren, ages eight and five. The one week he’s had since Ferguson announced that he would not seek another term has not been enough to make a decision.
But Biondi does think he would make a good congressman, saying that he has exhibited “and tenacity in every position I’ve held,” given his past ownership of two businesses and a long career in government. He spent eight years as Hillsborough mayor, four years as a Somerset County Freeholder and 10 years in the Assembly, where he’s been Republican conference leader since 2006.
Those years of experience contrast with the another relatively high profile potential candidate from Somerset County – Kate Whitman, the 30-year-old daughter of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
Biondi didn’t want to comment on a potential Whitman candidacy.
One thorny issue that could come up if Biondi does decide to run is a may incident when two racially insensitive jokes appeared to have been forwarded from his email address. Biondi took responsibility for sending them back then, although he said he did not recall doing so. Later, he said, he hired an expert to check his computer to see if they had been forwarded by him. Biondi said that the expert concluded that they had not, and he chalked the jokes up to a dirty primary campaign trick.
“It was sent out during the primary but I don’t believe it was my opponent,” said Biondi. “Judas is a lot closer to you.”