Kevin O’Toole announces he’s not seeking reelection in ’17

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

It’s a wild Friday in Bergen politics, Save Jerseyans.

Hours after sources confirmed that GOP Sheriff, Michael Saudino, would switch parties, veteran GOP State Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) announced his decision to not seek reelection via a statement obtained by Save Jersey.

O'Toole“As such, I have decided this will be my last term in the legislature and that I will not seek re-election in 2017,” said O’Toole, citing the need to let a “next generation” take over the reins.

The 40th Legislative District encompasses portions of Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties and includes the towns of Allendale, Cedar Grove, Franklin Lakes, Ho-Ho-Kus, Little Falls, Midland Park, Pequannock, Pompton Lakes,Ridgewood, Riverdale, Totowa, Waldwick, Wayne, Woodland Park, and Wyckoff. As such, his district has been swept up in the in-fighting that’s dominated both Bergen and Passaic in recent years; last cycle, running mates Asm. David Russo, Asm. Scott Rumana fought off a ballot-related legal challenge from Republican opponents. O’Toole endorsement was expected to play a role in the upcoming Bergen Chairman’s contest (he backed a Yudin challenger last time around).

An Irish-Korean American lawyer with the firm of O’Toole Fernandez Weiner Vanlieu LLC who was first elected to the Assembly in 1995 and served 5-terms there before moving up to his current post in 2007, Senator O’Toole is also a long-time staunch Christie political ally who was the lead candidate in a failed post-Election 2013 coup attempt to replace Tom Kean, Jr. as the Republican leader in the State Senate. The veteran Essex Republican lost his own position in the leadership in the fallout.

For now, there’s still two years left for the veteran legislator who, it seems, will wrap up his career in politics to coincide with Christie’s own departure from Trenton. “While I have decided not to seek another term in office, I intend to complete the remainder of my term – which ends in January of 2018,” O’Toole announced.” Until that time, please know that my office remains available to assist you and I intend to remain an active member of the Legislature advocating for issues that improve the quality of life for residents here in District 40 and throughout our State.”

Next? More than one LD40 source tells me that the race to succeed O’Toole is wide-open as of the writing. Buckle up…