By Matthew Gilson | The Save Jersey Blog
As the picture continues to come into focus as to just what is going to happen the rest of the way in District 38, Save Jerseyans, the immediate focus should be on who exactly is going to replace Anthony Cappola if the Republicans can successful petition the court to allow one.
With just a month to go, if a serious challenge is going to be mounted, someone with little to no name recognition with not be the ideal choice or really much of a choice at all. And while District 38 is swirling with qualified Republicans in local office, someone who already has district-wide branding would have to be the choice.
Here are the possible names and the likelihood they would run:
Joe Scarpa, Councilman in Rochelle Park
Just as back in the beginning of the year, the conversation for the best candidate to run for the seat begins and ends with Joe Scarpa. After having lost by an unfathomably small margin in 2013, most Republicans, including myself, hoped that he would run again and appeared initially to be the top choice of the BCRO. While he was beginning his tenure as borough administrator in Bogota, perhaps now that he is more settled in the role Scarpa would be willing to join the ticket, especially with only a sprint of a campaign left. However, it remains more optimism than likelihood, and I put the interest level for him at “very low.”
After narrowly losing to Bob Gordon in 2013, Fernando Alonso has certainly not shied away from the political scene. He is currently the chairman of the Bergen County Hispanic Republicans and has been campaigning for many candidates around the candidate, including his wife, Donna, who is up for re-election to the Oradell council this year. He carries the negative of having run and lost twice in the district, but in a sprint to the finish he carries perhaps the best name recognition of anyone on this list. As a person committed to diversity in the Republican Party, he perhaps better than any cast aside the nasty taste left by the comments of Cappola. I would be him as “somewhat interested” in joining the ticket.
Rose Heck, Outgoing Mayor of Hasbrouck Heights
Quick question: who is the last Republican to represent District 38 in Trenton? If you guessed Rose Heck, congratulations! You’re right. Heck served a few terms in Trenton before losing the senate race in 2003, but has served two-terms returning as Hasbrouck Heights mayor. However, Heck was defeated this year by newcomer Jack DeLorenzo in the primary election and does not appear as eager as previously thought to pursue a write-in campaign in the general. While Heck could end her term as mayor and retire with a very successful resume, perhaps a chance to return to Trenton could too much to pass off. Perhaps closest to DiPisa of anyone on this list, I would be surprised if her phone is not ringing. However, I rate Heck as “not interested” in joining the ticket.
Ed Trawinski, Former Fair Lawn Mayor and LD38 Candidate
While it seems like an eternity ago, Trawinski actually sought this seat this year in the convention but lost pretty significantly to Cappola. The win by Cappola was seen as more of a backlash as Trawinski and “all things Donovan” rather than a ringing endorsement of Cappola. While he would enter with high name recognition and an ability to raise money fast, considering his lack of support in the convention among fellow Republicans, I do not rate Trawinski as anything more than “slightly interested” in the seat.
John Driscoll, Former Freeholder
When District 38 first began a hot bed of competition in 2011, John Driscoll, a freeholder at the time gave Bob Gordon a serious run for his money. Driscoll passed up running for re-election as freeholder in 2012 to pursue the seat again, only to lose to Fernando Alonso in a run-off convention when the first one ended tied. Driscoll has name recognition and experience, but after suffering a stroke earlier this year it is to be seen whether the rigors of a short campaign are something he is up for yet. However, knowing John, unless someone ties him down to a bed he would be up for the fight. Actually, maybe even if someone tied him down to a bed. That being said, I rate him as “interested” in running for the seat.
In the end, it is still a tossup as to whether Republicans can get a replacement on the ballot. If they do, it is also likely it is not any of these people. For the sake of the party, hopefully we can get this race back on track…