Former Republican state Sen. Louis Kosco said that he occasionally gets calls from his friends who follow politics asking if he feels happy to see the Democrat who beat him in 2001 in legal trouble.
With Coniglio convicted today of six counts of mail fraud and extortion, Kosco, who moved to Lacey Township from Paramus four years ago, said he’s just sad.
“People call me and say ‘aren’t you happy about this,’ I say ‘absolutely not,'” he said. “It’s not something that I’m gloating over, believe me,” he said.
Kosco spent eighteen years in the Assembly and state Senate representing District 38, which was then a swing district. Like Coniglio, he served on the Paramus Borough Council before the moving up to the Legislature. He even lived ten doors down from Coniglio, though he said he did not know him well.
“I spent all those years in the legislature keeping that district as clean as it could possibly be. It just makes it look bad for all the honest politicians that are there, and there are a lot of them that do the right thing,” said Kosco.
Kosco said that he was “thrown under the bus” the last time the state redistricted, taking away many of his district’s Republican-leaning towns and replacing them with Democratic strongholds like Fort Lee and Fair Lawn. That paved the way for Coniglio’s victory.
Now, Kosco said, the district is solidly Democrat, although Coniglio’s conviction could change that.
“There’s hardly any way a Republican can win in that district unless something like this happens,” he said.
Republicans are running Ridgefield Councilman Nicholas Lonzisero and Judith Fisher, a former Fort Lee GOP mayoral candidate, against incumbents Connie Wagner (D-Paramus) and Joan Voss (D-Fort Lee).
Although they’ve made some noise about turning the district competitive, it is not at the top of the state Republicans’ list.
State Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), who served as an Assemblyman when Coniglio was in the state Senate and won a special convention in 2007 to replace Coniglio after his legal woes forced his pre-indictment resignation, said that he did not yet know enough about the specifics of the conviction to comment in detail.
“My feelings are with Joe and his family,” he said. “Obviously when you serve with someone for a number of years, you develop a relationship, and my reaction is really emotional.”