TRENTON – Deflecting but not refuting questions about their intentions, Senator Peter Barnes (D-18) and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-18) would not say whether Barnes is headed for a judgeship and Diegnan for his seat.
As state superior court judgeships are awarded, the territory may change dramatically for 2017’s state Senate races, where Diegnan could finally cash in his seniority.
“Nothing is imminent,” Barnes said of the court nomination before a committee hearing on Monday morning. A Middlesex County Democratic source had told PolitickerNJ last week that Barnes will finally be receiving his place on the bench.
“Would it be an honor to be considered? Yes it would. I think any lawyer would say that.”
Down the hall and a floor below, Diegnan was more upbeat.
“It would be disrespectful to say anything until he makes his determination public,” said Diegnan of his Senate district-mate. “I mean, he’s a great guy, he’s a great senator, I support him 100%. I don’t think he’s made a final decision.”
“It’s almost like jumping on somebody’s grave,” he added. “Although it is a step up. Obviously it’s something I would pursue if he makes that decision.”
Though Diegnan is primed for a possible Senate battle, others have expressed their doubts as to whether the Assemblyman can overcome his reputation as an attack magnet. The 18th district has been more competitive than Democrats would like, which many attribute to him and his underwhelming fundraising record.