This year, New Jersey’s only contested legislative race is in the Morris County-dominated 25th District, where Senator Anthony M. Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn are running against Democrats Rupande Mehta and Darcy Draeger for a one-year unexpired term.
It is a race that is attracting close attention at the Statehouse because it is the only campaign in New Jersey focused on state issues, including Gov. Murphy’s handling of the pandemic and the recent state budget.
It is also being run in a district where Draeger and her running mates have cut sharply into traditional Republican victory margins in the last two elections.
In the tumultuous year since he replaced his late father, Anthony R. Bucco, Senator Bucco has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Murphy administration’s handling of the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
He criticized the slow response to the avalanche of unemployment claims and warned in advance about the lines that would emerge once motor vehicle agencies reopened. He focused attention on the disproportionate death rates in New Jersey nursing homes and veterans homes, pushed for quicker reopenings of outdoor car dealerships, retail businesses and restaurants, and attacked the $4.5 billion in borrowing and tax hikes that propped up the state budget.
While we disagree with his stands on a number of issues, Bucco has consistently raised key policy issues that deserved public debate, which is the most important role of the opposition party in an increasingly one-party state where Democrats control the governorship and more than 60 percent of seats in both the Senate and Assembly.
Bucco, a Boonton Township resident, deserves re-election in his race against Rupande Mehta of Denville Township, who has run previously unsuccessfully for freeholder and has made shared services and environmental issues the centerpiece of her campaign.
The choice in the Assembly race matches two strong candidates whose moderate political views reflect those of most voters in the 25th District.
Draeger, a Chester Township Democrat who served as Morris County director for Tom Malinowski’s 2018 upset congressional win, has staked out her independence from Gov. Murphy’s tax positions in previous Assembly races.
But Assemblywoman Dunn, a Mendham resident, brings extensive policy experience as a former aide to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, and her work as district director for former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen gives her a deep understanding of constituent issues. In an Assembly where Democrats already enjoy a 52-28 advantage, our choice is Dunn.
Vote for Bucco and Dunn in the 25th legislative district.