Dale Florio, chairman of the Somerset County Republican Party, said he was still stunned by the news today that 7th district U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson would not pursue re-relection in 2008.
Nonetheless, "I respect his decision to care for a growing family," said Florio, who credited Ferguson with being a good watchdog of taxpayers' dollars and a strong advocate for homeland security.
"He is a good friend and a good congressman," Florio added.
The Somerset County chairman said he's sure there will be some horseplay in the coming days as the party considers its stable of would-be successors.
Florio's short list includes former U.S. Rep. Bob Franks, Assemblyman Pete Biondi, Freeholder Jack Ciatterelli, Warren Township Mayor Victor Sordillo, and Bedminister Councilman Finn Caspersen. He said he had not yet heard from Sen.-Elect Kip Bateman, who is out of the country.
Somerset is home to the 7th congressional district's second largest concentration of total voters and the second largest concentration of Republican voters.
The breakdown of all voters for the portions of the four counties in the 7th is as follows: Union (125,211 voters), Somerset (97,364), Middlesex (68,048), and Hunterdon (57,708).
The breakdown of registered Republican voters is Union (26,918 voters), Somerset (24,666), Hunterdon (21,863), and Middlesex (7,460).