Could John Bennett be heading back to Trenton?
…Senator Joe Kyillos?
By virtue of his long term friendship with Governor Christie and his campaign for U.S. Senate last year, State Senator Joe Kyrillos is on every Christie mind reader’s short list of possible U.S. Senators to replace the late Frank Lautenberg.
Assuming Kyrillos defeats Leigh-Ann Bellew in the primary today, his move to the U.S. Senate would create a vacancy for the nomination for State Senate in LD 13. If either Assemblywoman Amy Handlin or Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon move up to the Senate slot, as would be expected, there will be an Assembly nomination vacancy.
Neither Handlin nor O’Scanlon will say if they want the State Senate seat, which probably means they both want it. Even so, I would expect that they would work that out amongst themselves rather than have a convention fight.
A nominating convention for the resulting Assembly vacancy would bring out a wealth of Republican talent.
From Middletown, both Gerry Scharfenberger and Tony Fiore would be formidable. They won’t compete with each other. Whichever of the two seeks the nomination would likely win.
Also from Middletown, Freeholder John Curley. The Statehouse press corps would love Curley. The Assembly Democrats would hate him and the Assembly Republican Minority Leadership would dread him. He’d be right at home shaking things up in Trenton. Curley in the legislature is fun to think about, but probably won’t happen.
Deputy Freeholder Director Serena DiMaso is said to want a seat in the legislature, someday. If neither Scharfenberger or Fiore compete for the nod, Middletown and Holmdel aligning would guarantee DiMaso the nomination and create a freeholder nomination vacancy. Nobody wants this outcome more than former Howell Mayor Bob Walsh, except, maybe, Serena.
Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza will float his name, as he often does, but probably not run.
Councilman Joe Irace is a tireless advocate for his community and is frequently mentioned for higher office. He says he has no political ambitions beyond Oceanport, which is one of the things that makes him such an attractive candidate.
Anna Little won’t be a candidate for State Legislature. She looks to be preparing to run for Congress again next year.
…Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno?
Guadagno is the only woman on most short lists. In a short race, i.e., if the “temporary Senator” has to defend the seat this November rather than next, Kim probably outperforms the white men being considered by Christie against the presumed Democratic nominee, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
If Christie sends Guadagno to Washington, who becomes Lt. Governor? With a Christie presidential run considered a real possibility, Lt. Governor becomes a coveted position. If Kyrillos becomes Lt. Governor, with an eye on Drumthwaket, see above for the local consequences.
…Senator Jennifer Beck?
While not (yet) mentioned on any short lists in other publications, Beck would be an exciting choice. She would appeal to New Jersey’s moderate electorate. A fierce competitor, Beck would run harder against Booker than anyone else. And, she would be harder for Booker to run against than anyone else.
What happens if Beck moves to Washington? Who becomes the State Senate nominee? Mary Pat Angelini? Caroline Casagrande? If so,who would becomes the Assembly nominee? Colts Neck Mayor Michael Fitzgerald? Freehold Township Mayor Barbara McMorrow? Deputy Mayor Anthony Ammiano? State Committeewoman Christine Hanlon of Ocean Township?
Any of the above would be good choices. But if Jennifer Beck goes to Washington, look for Monmouth GOP Chairman John Bennett to make a triumphant return to the Senate in Trenton after a 10 year absence.