Monmouth County Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon is making statewide waves and generating statewide headlines in his quest to prove that red light cameras are not safety devices, but revenue generating ripoffs.
O’Scanlon makes a compelling case, backed up with engineering, that yellow lights should be timed for actual speeds that motorists are driving, rather than by the posted speed limits. He convinced MMM that’s he’s right on the issue, and that might be the subject of a future post. Read one of these articles if you want to bone up on that issue now. What prompted my call to O’Scanlon was politics, not policy.
There are no red light cameras in O’Scanlon’s legislative district, the 13th in Northern Monmouth County.
As the Assembly Republican Budget Officer, O’Scanlon has one of the highest, if not the highest, statewide profile of his fellow Republicans in the Assembly.
The last time O’Scanlon made statewide headlines on a issue not related to the budget he was speaking out in favor of medical marijuana and against towns that were using zoning laws to keep happy medicine dispensaries and farms outside of their boundaries. MMM’s unscientific poll indicated that his position on 420 could cause a 180 among his supporters in the 13th.
I wondered if O’Scanlon might have political ambitions that, in addition to his commitment to doing the right thing, are motivating his activities outside of his district.
“The red light camera issue does impact my district,” said O’Scanlon, “my constituents drive outside of the district.”
“If my career ends with my current office, I will be perfectly content,” he said, denying that personal ambition is a motivating factor for his recent efforts, ‘if another opportunity comes up, I would consider it but I’m not looking for higher office.”
There could be another opportunity, soon. If State Senator Joe Kyrillos is elected to the U.S. Senate in November, his 13th district Senate seat will become vacant in January. O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin would be the obvious candidates to move up to the Senate.
I doubt that Handlin and O’Scanlon would have a contested Title 19 convention for the Senate seat. They would probably work it out between themselves. Unless Anna Little, who resides in the 13th, decides to get into that race, there will probably not be a contest.
In the unlikely event there is a head to head contest between Handlin and O’Scanlon for Senate, the numbers favor Handlin. O’Scanlon was originally elected to represent the old 12th district. He was essentially written into the new 13th which is predominately the old 13th with a few small towns from the old 12th and the old 11th thrown in to make the numbers work. Handlin, from Middletown, the largest town in the district, is much better known throughout the district.
If Kyrillos goes to Washington and either Handlin or O’Scanlon graduate to the State Senate, there will be a competitive race for the resulting 13th district Assembly vacancy. That will be fun if it happens. Anna Little, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore, Atlantic Highlands Councilman Peter Doyle, Middletown Prosecutor Gerry Massell, Union Beach Councilman Charile Cocuzza could all be players. Add Middletown Committeeman Gerry Scharfenberger, and Selika Josiah Gore of Marlboro if either of them return to the private sector.
O’Scanlon is taking on statewide issues that extend well beyond the 13th in Monmouth County. If what he says about his lack of ambition for higher office is true, he probably doesn’t have the fire in his belly to seek statewide office. New Jersey has four statewide elective offices….2 U.S. Senate seats, Governor and Lt. Governor. The gubernatorial nominee of each party selects the Lt. Governor candidate, so that’s not an office that one runs for in the traditional sense.
Earlier this week Politickernj ran a piece about possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2013 should Governor Christie not seek a second term. O’Scanlon is not on that list. If he keeps doing what he is doing, he is sure to be on future lists of potential candidates for statewide office, fire in his belly or not.