Fifteen State Senators who were elected in the 2003 election did not seek re-election in 2007 – a record number of voluntary retirements in a chamber where Senators are more likely to die in office than to walk away. The next Senate election is in 2011 — in newly-drawn districts that will reflect the next census.
Three Senators on the possible retirement list are Republicans Gerald Cardinale, who will be 77, and Anthony Bucco, who will be 73, and Democrat Loretta Weinberg, who will be 76 in 2011.
Look for Bergen County Democrats to push for a different type of 39th district — one that unpacks Democrats in Districts 36, 37 and 38 so that they can compete in for these clearly GOP-leaning Senate and Assembly seats. Cardinale won re-election to a ninth term last year by a 55%-45% margin. Cardinale’s two Republican running mates are both at retirement age – John Rooney, who would be 72 in 2011 and has already hinted at retirement, and Charlotte Vandervalk, who would be 74.
There is no shortage of Republicans interested in taking Bucco’s Senate seat – which would likely remain safe GOP after redistricting: Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll and Richard Merkt; Morris County Freeholder John Murphy, who might have to abandon his plans to run for Governor again in 2009 if fellow Morris Republican Christopher Christie runs; former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino; and Bucco’s son, Anthony M. Bucco.
If Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero doesn’t succeed in ousting Weinberg’s Assembly running mates, Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, in 2009, watch for some changes in District 37 in redistricting.