The departure come the end of 2017 from the state senate of Kevin O’Toole sets up a possible (make that probable) coming battle royale for his 40th District seat.
Names that must be considered as O’Toole’s successors include Assemblyman Scott Rumana, Assemblyman Dave Russo, Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado, and Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney, among others.
Those are the Republicans, who have the edge in a district heavy with Passaic (pop. 104,000 in the 40th) that also contains a portion of Bergen (pop. 79,000) and towns in Morris (19,000) and Essex (12,400).
It’s a tribute to his force of personality and political gamesmanship that O’Toole made 40 his domain, by the way, despite residing in its otherwise politically irrelevant Essex sliver.
Wayne by rights offers the most (on paper) power base.
Among Democrats, names include Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn and Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark. If Aronsohn and Kazmark both ran, political junkies would be treated to a Passaic v. Bergen bloodbath.
But the possible Republican war bears more scrutiny, for obvious reasons and most importantly because division naturally abides in the Passaic portion of the 40th.
The former mayor of Wayne, the biggest single town in the 40th, Rumana possesses the government background, pedigree and experience to appear to be the natural choice to succeed longtime slate mate O’Toole. But a longtime intra-party war pitting Rumana against former Chairman Peter Murphy may impede the assemblyman’s shot. Murphy bulked up politically last year much to the chagrin of Rumana, and he has a staunch ally in Corrado of Totowa.
There’s also been buzz for years that Rumana could be headed to a judgeship.
Then there’s Rooney, who’s already laid down a challenge to Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin.
Besieged by the mayor of Wyckoff but apparently unconcerned to hear him talk about Rooney, Yudin could possibly shake the challenger off his back by persuading him to run for O’Toole’s seat if Bergen can’t reach an agreement with Passaic.
Or maybe if Rumana doesn’t back down in the face of a Murphy-fueled Corrado, the assemblyman could get Rooney on his team from Bergen, and maybe there are talks to be had in such a scenario with Yudin.
Then there’s another name not to be discounted; a name out of Bergen:
Freeholder Maura DeNicola.