Can the GOP recruit strong candidates in the 36th?

Some Republican leaders believe Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola and Rutherford Mayor John Hipp would make a strong ticket for the State Assembly against incumbents Frederick Scalera and Gary Schaer in the 36th district next year. Last won by Republican Paul DiGaetano in 2003, the 36thwas the closest race in the state last year in a district where the EnCap development at the Meadowlands has led to the defeat of more than a dozen local officials.

Cocchiola, a Republican, was re-elected Mayor last May in Nutley’s non-partisan municipal election – the first incumbent to win a second consecutive term in nearly forty years. She has turned down chances to seek higher office before. Hipp ousted incumbent Bernadette McPherson in 2006 by a huge margin.

Can the GOP recruit strong candidates in the 36th?