O’Scanlon: “While I appreciate Amy’s confidence and endorsement for Assembly, I am running for Senate”
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin said she would seek another term in the New Jersey General Assembly if the 13th district County Committee members choose another candidate to replace Senator Joe Kyrillos in the upper house of the legislature. So far, the only other candidate for the Senate seat is Handlin’s district mate, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.
“Yes and yes,” Handlin said when asked if she would seek the GOP nomination for Assembly if she failed in her Senate bid and if she wanted O’Scanlon on the ticket as a candidate for Assembly.
“I’ve been top vote-getter across the district by considerable margins every time I’ve run. Along with my anti-gas tax stance, I believe that basic and essential fact makes me the strongest candidate at the top of the ticket in a tough year. But either way, there will be one incumbent Assembly member who can stay on the ticket. As Republicans, we can’t risk losing an Assembly seat by losing a proven incumbent. ”
O’Scanlon said both Assembly seats are open and that he would support Handlin for one of them, if she commits before other candidates come forward.
“While I appreciate Amy’s confidence and endorsement for Assembly, I am running for Senate,” O’Scanlon said. “There is a wealth of Republican talent in the 13th district, many of whom would make fine Assembly members and who have proven their electability . Amy is not being fair to them or to our constituents by ‘reserving her spot’ while she seeks higher office. Amy should decide what office she wants to compete for and then commit to it.
“If Amy declares for Assembly, and not Senate, before others do, she will have my support. Until then, both Assembly seats should be considered open.
“Regarding the gas tax, given my leadership in the legislature, I did not have the luxury of a politically expedient vote. When it became obvious that the gas tax was inevitable given the Democratic support, I went to work and helped win one of the largest tax cut packages in NJ history, including tax cuts for seniors, veterans and small business owners. Amy was not at that table.
“I look forward to debating this issue with Amy, as well as our mutual records in the legislature, before the county committee members should she continue her campaign for Senate.”
No candidates have declared for the Assembly seats yet. Several has expressed interest, including Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, who also said he might run for the Senate seat. Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza and Atlantic Highlands Board of Education member Brent Sonnek-Schmeltz are also in the mix for Assembly.
Disclosure: Art Gallagher, publisher of MoreMonmouthMusings, is an adviser to Declan O’Scanlon