Though the senate and assembly races in Republican-leaning LD40 won’t be held until 2017, a number of moving parts have made the district one to watch. When Senator Kevin O’Toole announced that he would not be pursuing reelection when his term ends, it opened the door for speculation on what would happen when his retirement came. Now, some are wondering who will eventually become the Republican nominee for his seat and what will happen to the assembly positions in the district.
O’Toole’s decision brings into question the fate of his district mates, Assemblyman Scott Rumana and Assemblyman David Russo. Some wonder if O’Toole’s decision to depart will entice either of the sitting assemblyman to pursue the LD40 senate seat. That move would open at least one spot in the assembly.
Despite considerable speculation that Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney dropped from the race for Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman in order to pursue an LD40 assembly seat, the mayor said he is not planning on making the move at this time.
“I am happy where I am,” Rooney told PolitickerNJ. “We have two assemblymen who just got elected so why would I even try that?”
On Tuesday, Rooney announced that he would be exiting the BCRO race for chairman and would be endorsing current chairman Bob Yudin. According to his remarks, Rooney’s decision stems from a desire for Bergen County’s Republicans to move forward as a unified front to the November elections.
“If we are going to win this November and in the future we must unite and stop the interparty fighting,” Rooney said. “I know some of you will be disappointed by my decision, but now is not the time for a ugly divisive chairman’s race, this will only lead to a democrat victory.”
On Wednesday, Assemblyman Scott Rumana held a successful fundraiser in Little Falls. Over 130 guests were present and the event drew the likes of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Congressman Scott Garrett, Senator Gerald Cardinale, Conference Leader Dave Rible, Passaic County Chairman John Traier, Ocean County Chairman George Gilmore, and NJ Federation of Republican Women President Vanessa LaFranco.
According to one source, any speculation on what impact O’Toole’s departure might have is nothing more than conjecture. Because the LD40 races are not until 2017, the source said it is hard to know how the process will play out until after this year’s elections are no longer a main priority.
“Rumana is out there fundraising and, as far as I know, David Russo has not said that he is retiring,” the source said. “It is a rumor. Everybody is always looking for the curve behind the curve and, sometimes, there really isn’t just anything there. I think you are going to see a lot of candidates running for a lot of things depending on what happens in the next year.”
Even so, some insiders are saying that Rumana may be positioning himself to run for the Senate seat to be vacated by O’Toole in 2017. Others are saying that he might accept a judgeship.
“I am keeping all options open,” Rumana told PolitickerNJ.
The source also spoke about Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado’s potential bid to replace O’Toole after retirement. According to insiders, Corrado is Passaic County boss Peter Murphy’s pick to succeed O’Toole. While having Murphy on her side is likely to strengthen a bid by Corrado, Rumana may seize upon the endorsement as an opportunity to criticize Corrado for the connection to Murphy (he was arrested for corruption in 2000). Murphy and Rumana have a long-standing contentious relationship.
“I have heard that there is an interest on her part and some of her supporter’s part, now that the senate seat is vacant,” the source said of Corrado. “All these weird rumors of alliances and tickets and who is in and who is out, I think it is just a little premature.”
Another name that has been floated along with Corrado and Rumana to replace O’Toole as a Senator from LD40 is former Assemblyman Paul DeGaetano. However, DeGaetano said his energies are currently focused on a race other than the LD40 contest: the BCRO chairman race.
While DeGaetano has not confirmed his intentions to run for chairman, he said it is a “very strong possibility” and that he is currently meeting with Republicans around Bergen County in an attempt to gather support for a challenge to Yudin. Now that Rooney is out of the race, it looks as though DeGaetano will be Yudin’s only challenger come June.
State Senate and Assembly candidates do not need to file petitions with the state until April 2017.