Saying that he doesn't want to spend too much time away from his family, Assemblyman Peter Biondi today opted not to run for Congress to succeed Rep. Mike Ferguson in the seventh district.
Biondi would have likely been the local Republican Party’s candidate of choice in Somerset — one of four counties that make up the congressional district.
“This was a tough decision. What’s best for me and my family is that I be here,” said Biondi, who is the Republican conference leader in the Assembly. “I think I can better serve my constituents in my leadership position in Trenton.”
Biondi said that he encountered a lot of support in Somerset County. So far, he said, he hasn’t chosen which candidate he’s going to endorse.
Former gubernatorial daughter Kate Whitman, 30, is from Somerset County. She already announced her candidacy and said that she raised approximately $200,000 in 2007.
Biondi’s decision not to run opens the door for two other Somerset County candidates: Warren Township Mayor Victor Sordillo, and former Hillsborough Deputy Mayor Chris Venis. Both said that they would not run if Biondi did.
Although Sordillo’s name has been in the mix of potential candidates since Ferguson announced his decision not to seek another term, he did not raise any money while waiting for Biondi’s decision.
Sordillo said he talked with Somerset County Republican Chairman Dale Florio last night and that, as of today, his campaign is all but official. He will formally announce his campaign kickoff on January 30th at the Warren Health and Racquet Club, after which he will begin raising money.
But if Sordillo doesn’t get the Somerset County line, he will drop out.
“I want to be the Somerset County candidate. Without that I will support whoever is given the line for Somerset County,” he said.
Likewise for Venis, who announced his candidacy early on and has been making the rounds in the county committee, but did not raise any money for fear of tapping into Biondi’s potential donors. Now he’s ready to make a go for the Somerset County endorsement.
“Now we can go full force, straight ahead and see what we can do to win this nomination,” said Venis.
The Republican parties of the four counties that make up the seventh congressional district – Union, Hunterdon, Somerset and Middlesex – plan to hold conventions to endorse candidates late next month and in early March.