If members of the Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) are looking for a replacement county executive candidate for Jack Zisa, Assemblyman David Russo (R-Ridgewood) says don't look to him.
"A couple people asked me and I told them I wasn't interested," said Russo, who said that taking on the position would mean giving up his law practice. "There are a lot of things. You've got to give up your business and everything else. It's a full-time thing, and I don't know if I can really do that."
Russo's name is one of several that popped up in response to rumors that Zisa, the former mayor of Hackensack, would not run for the county's top post.
Zisa, who has not commented on whether he will run, could not be reached for comment. But most party insiders are under the impression that he either will drop his bid shortly or already has.
Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin, for his part, said he is under that impression, too, but stressed that he had "no official word" on Zisa's status and added that "Jack never officially told me he was running."
Whether Bergen County Republicans scour the party for a Zisa replacement will give some idea of how well Yudin and his allies have patched things up with County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, who has indicated that she was likely to run in a letter to county committee members earlier this month.
Donovan and her allies have long had a tense relationship with the Yudin faction.
Yudin, however, said the party was "not scouring anything."
"There are a number of people stepping up contemplating running," he said. "People are reaching out, and they have a right to do that."
Yudin would not comment on who exactly is reaching out, and it's clear that aside from Donovan, no other likely candidates have emerged. But several names – some more realistic than others — pop up in conversations with party insiders: Elmwood Park Mayor Richard Mola, a former freeholder who has been courted but has reportedly expressed reluctance to run; Franklin Lakes Mayor Maura De Nicola; former River Edge Councilman John Felice; and even state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest), who sources say has not completely ruled out the possibility of running. Cardinale could not be reached for comment.
Felice, for his part, was surprised to hear his name mentioned.
"To be very honest with you, I haven't even considered it because it hasn't even crossed my mind," said the son of former nine-term Assemblyman Nicholas Felice.