Five People Who Might Run in NJ’s Legislative District 38

Both the state senate seat and assembly seats will be open in 2017.

New Jersey's 38th legislative district is located in Bergen County.

New Jersey’s 38th legislative district is located in Bergen County. Mr. Matté / Wikipedia

On Thursday evening, long-rumored candidate for New Jersey’s 38th legislative district Fair Lawn Mayor John Cosgrove issued a statement pulling his name out of contention for state senate or assembly. According to Cosgrove’s release, while “much is broken in Trenton,” his focus will remain on finishing out his term in Fair Lawn.

According to LD38 Republican Chairman Jim Arakelian, the race is still very much open and new candidates will be considered in the coming months. In a November 28 Facebook post on the District 38 Republicans page, Arakelian issued a call for letters of interest from prospective candidates. In the post, Arakelian says that while “bylaws allow for a Feb 1, 2017 deadline” his preference is to have the slate set sooner as the challengers  “are already starting behind the incumbents.”

“We are open to candidates with strong Republican values that are electable,” Arakelian said. “I have received quite a few phone calls and we are going through that as we speak but it is still very early in the process. We will run a very aggressive campaign against three people who voted for the gas tax in Bergen County.”

Currently, the district is held by Democrats state Senator Bob Gordon, Assemblyman Tim Eustace and Assemblyman Joe Lagana. However, past races have been very close, something that has prompted Republicans to pump significant effort into the district in recent years.

Observer compiled a list of six Republicans who might throw their names into the mix for either senate or assembly.

  1. Fernando Alonso. When 2015 LD38 assembly candidate Anthony Cappola had to withdraw due to a incendiary self-published book that surfaced, Alonso was willing to step up and attempt to win the district for Republicans. While ballot issues kept Alonso from running officially, his willingness to step forward in LD38 shows that the Oradell resident is willing to go above and beyond for his district. The head of the Bergen County Hispanic Republicans is also a well-liked figure in the Bergen GOP. With a race expected to be tight, name recognition will be crucial and Alonso has it among LD38 Republicans.
  2. Mark DiPisa. The Lodi native ran alongside Cappola in 2015. So, when Cappola’s candidacy crashed and burned, DiPisa’s came crashing down with it. It is possible that the attorney might take another crack at that assembly seat next year. He is a regular sight at Bergen County Republican Organization events.
  3. John Felice. Outgoing Bergen County Freeholder John Felice opted not to run for re-election to his county position during this year’s general election. However, the River Edge native is considered a likely candidate to run to represent LD38 in Trenton next year. Like Alonso, Felice has name recognition, something that could be an important factor in a race against incumbents.
  4. Norman Schmalz. The Bergenfield mayor has a proven track record of winning somewhere that is controlled by Democrats. While Schmalz is a Republican, every member of the Bergenfield council is a Democrat. Also, because Schmalz term as mayor doesn’t end until 2019, he will be able to run for a seat in LD38 without the concern of leaving his local position.
  5. Matt Seymour. The New Milford attorney lacks some name recognition in the district but is considered a possible candidate in the 2017 race for assembly.

The district also has a number of Republican mayors including Adrian Febre of Maywood and Ed Mignone of River Edge, among others, that could possibly enter the race.

Guadagno with LD38 Republican Chairman Jim Arakelian.

LD38 Republican Chairman Jim Arakelian (left) hosted an event in September focused on capturing the district. The event featured Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Alyana Alfaro for Observer)

Five People Who Might Run in NJ’s Legislative District 38