The decision of Assemblyman Herbert Conaway (D-Delanco) to run for Burlington County Democratic Chairman could complicate a 2010 special election for State Senator if Diane Allen (R-Edgewater Park) were to leave the Legislature. Allen is battling an aggressive form of cancer and recently had surgery. She has a tough road ahead.
If Allen were to resign, the Republican County Committee from the seventh district towns in Burlington and Camden counties would hold a special election convention to name a new Senator. There has been speculation that Rev. Aubrey Fenton, a minister and former Burlington County Freeholder, could take the seat. That would set up a November 2010 special election to fill the remaining fourteen months of Allen's term – an early referendum on Republican Christopher Christie's first months as Governor in a Democratic-leaning district Allen has won five times. It would also be an early test for the new Senate President, Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who topped Richard Codey largely because of the size of the South Jersey Democratic delegation. A special election could be enormously expensive Sweeney and Democratic leader George Norcross battle the new Republican governor for a valuable Senate seat.
The high profile State Senate race would also come as U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) campaigns for a second term; there is substantial overlap between the third congressional district and the seventh legislative district.
Three names have been prominently mentioned on the Democratic side: Conaway, Assemblyman Jack Conners (D-Pennsauken), and Troy Singleton, a former Deputy Executive Director of the Assembly and now the Director of Policy and Planning for the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters. Singleton, who took a leave of absence this year to run Loretta Weinberg's campaign for Lt. Governor, is a favorite of Camden County Democratic leaders who are not huge fans of Conaway.
A 2010 special election would provide Democratic Assemblymen with a uncommon opportunity to run for the Senate without risking their Assembly seats.
If Fenton were to go to the Senate, he would become the first African American in state history to serve in the upper house as a Republican.