John Rooney, the longest serving member of the New Jersey State Assembly, has not yet made a decision about seeking re-election to a fifteenth term in 2009. The 69-year-old Bergen County Republican has been battling some health issues lately, and hinted last year that he might not run again. Rooney also faces the threat of a contested GOP primary now that Republicans who have been at odds with him in recent years control the county organization.
Rooney was first elected to the Assembly in 1983, when he won a special election to replace Joan Wright. Wright became Director of the state Division of Women under Governor Thomas Kean.
If Rooney retires, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts would become the senior member of the State Assembly. Roberts won an Assembly seat in a 1987 special election following the death of Francis Gorman.
Third in seniority is Alex DeCroce, the Assembly Minority Leader. DeCroce went to the Assembly in a 1989 special election after Kean appointed Ralph Loveys as Chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
The most senior member of the Legislature is Senate President Richard Codey, who was 26-years-old when he was elected to the State Assembly in 1973. He moved up to the Senate in 1981. In terms of Senate seniority, Republican Gerald Cardinale was also elected in 1981 after one term in the Assembly.
Democrat Raymond Lesniak has been in the Senate since winning a 1983 special election following the criminal conviction of John Gregorio. Lesniak was first elected to the Assembly in 1977, which makes him the second most senior member of the Legislature overall – along with Democrat John Girgenti, who was also elected to the Assembly in 1977 and moved up to the Senate following the death of Frank Graves in 1990.