Former Republican gubernatorial nominee Bret Schundler on Monday will formally endorse Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Twp.) and Tony Bucco, Jr., in the District 25 Assembly race, bringing two rivals into alignment behind the same backer.
No one runs as part of a team in this three-man contest, and yet to date, much of the GOP establishment has announced support for Morris County Freeholder Doug Cabana and Bucco, a trend epitomized by Morris County GOP Chair John Sette’s endorsement of the two Assembly candidates, in addition to other Trenton and Morris County electeds throwing their fundraising powers or simple goodwill behind the pair.
Conservative Carroll attends fish fry and spaghetti events thrown by both of his rivals, while also counting on his mountain man, movement, and pro-life, pro-gun base.
Schundler exerting his brand on Carroll comes as no newsflash, but his scheduled podium pump-up of Bucco comes as the first significant double endorsement of Carroll and a second candidate.
“We sat down recently and talked and at the conclusion of the dinner, Brett told me, ‘I would like to help you,’” Bucco said of his meeting with Schundler.
Morris County insiders see Schundler’s presence in the race as a move by the Bucco camp to position the son of the state senator with the same name, as a red meat conservative in the Republican Primary.
“Brett can be invited and has every right to attend receptions when and where he wants to,” said Cabana campaign manager George Dredden. “He’s a good Republican, but he doesn’t vote in our district.”
A one-time anti-establishement Republican who arrived from the right to take down Bob Franks in the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2001, Schundler’s endorsement of Bucco – son of an entrenched Republican senator – comes a month after he endorsed establishment darling Chris Christie over movement conservative Steve Lonegan in this year’s governor’s race.