Assemblyman-elect Sam Fiocchi (R-1) was the NJ GOP’s silver-lining, Save Jerseyans, on an Election Night 2013 devoid of any other down-ballot legislative successes.
I recently visited South Jersey’s newest legislator to get an idea of what he plans to do next:
Sheppard: Sam, let me ask you, right off the bat, how did it feel to win?
Fiocchi: Well, it certainly was a bittersweet victory. It’s great to win, you know this was my second try. I was hoping, actually, I was pretty confident, I thought my running mate Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt on the Senate side and Kristine Gabor on the Assembly side, that they were going to win as well, but it just didn’t work out that way. But I was certainly elated, it feels great, and I’m looking forward to the job in Trenton.
Sheppard: You hit the ground running, you promised during the campaign you would, you’ve already met with Republican Assembly leader Jon Bramnick and members of your caucus. How did that meeting go, what’s it look like you’ll be doing come January?
Fiocchi: We said we would hit the ground running and we did, it wasn’t November 6th, it was actually November 7th. I was called up to Trenton to do my first vote, I voted on the leader of the of our caucus, which ended up being Jon Bramnick. I actually can co-sponsor bills already. We went over a list of 11 bills that they had and I said before I commit I really need to research them, so that’s what I’m doing. So I’m already in it, I’m already in the mix. And it feels great. They’re great people, they really want to work together.
Sheppard: I don’t know the particulars about when your Freeholder term ends and your Assembly term begins, is there any overlap there or is that going to be a seamless transition?
Fiocchi: That’ll be seamless. I’ll be done [the Freeholder term] in December and then in January I’ll be sworn in [to the Assembly term].
Sheppard: You got this win despite that fact that, at least on the Democratic side, they poured more money into this race than any other race, and you still managed to get a victory. Does this give you hope for 2015 when this $3 million for the Democrats won’t be there?
Fiocchi: Yeah, I think so. Well, you never know if the money is going to be there or not. They outspent us by 6-to-1, it was a ridiculous amount of money that they spent on this race, and they lost one seat. I think it’s a step in the right direction. And I think it does, in 2015 there’s no Senate race, it’s just going to be head up Assembly, we’re actually going to be on the top of the ticket, there’s no other races that year, there’s nothing. So I have a feeling that we have a good chance, but we’ll see how much money they spend on that race, too, you just don’t know until the time comes.
Sheppard: I noticed that District 1 had the highest turnout in the state, everyone was shocked that statewide we had record low turnout, and yet we still had a really good turnout. Do you think that is something that can be carried forward into 2015?
Fiocchi: I think so. I think part of that [the turnout] had to do with our campaign, was that I think people were energized. I think there was a little higher turnout in Cape MayCounty than Cumberland. But I think it was [the campaign], I think people were energized. They saw a really strong ticket and good candidates so I think it gave them real hope to go out and vote. Of course you had a really popular governor on top of the ticket, that didn’t hurt.
Sheppard: Let’s talk about the 8 point plan. I know that you and your running mates really wanted to start to implement this. With just you picking up a seat, are there any aspects of the plan you’ll think be able to implement, because obviously with the two other people representing this district, you’ll be one man working in it alone?
Fiocchi: We’ll push it forward. When I met with people in Trenton, they were asking about it, in fact they were aware of the 8 point plan. They said ‘Listen, we know you have your 8 point plan, where do you want to begin?’ I said ‘Well, number one, what’s always been the key is employment. We need to get business here to create employment.’ So that’s probably what it is, you start at the top of the plan. Some of it, some of the plan, like the red tape review, I believe has already been partially implemented, so that needs to continue to be implemented. So they [Trenton Republicans] are certainly aware of it and they are there to help support move it along. And that’s the strength, really, of your Republican Assembly caucus, so you have people there who will help you move this stuff forward. And they are certainly willing to help.