In District 40, a history of incumbents losing primaries

In the 40th legislative district, where two Republican incumbents face primary challenges, the chain of custody of State Assembly seats comes from defeating sitting Assemblyman in primary elections. The first Assemblyman elected when the 40th was John Spizziri, a young lawyer from Wyckoff who had first won election to the Legislature in 1971. Spizziri, running on a line with gubernatorial candidate Raymond Bateman in 1977, lost the Republican primary to two young Republican lawyers, Cary Edwards and Walter Kern. Edwards and Kern were backed by supporters of another candidate for Governor, Thomas Kean. Bateman carried Bergen County, but Kean ran strongly in the 40th district towns.

When Kean was elected Governor four years later, Edwards became his Chief Counsel, and later the state Attorney General. Edwards lost bids for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 1989 and 1993. Kern went on to serve as Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman.

Kern lost the 1989 Republican primary after a random audit of his attorney trust fund account led to his disbarment. He was beaten by David Russo (R-Ridgewood), who has held the seat for the last twenty years.

Russo and freshman Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne) face a primary challenge from two businessmen, Joseph Caruso and Anthony Rottino.

 

In District 40, a history of incumbents losing primaries