“It’s a life-changing decision,” Bucco said over the weekend, at the grand opening of the Discover History Center at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum in Morristown.
Among other things, he said, he is weighing whether he can raise enough money for what should be “a very expensive race” to succeed Frelinghuysen, a 12-term Republican Congressman from Harding who is retiring.
Bucco, 55, would find himself in a primary battle against his friend, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26th Dist.) of Morris Plains.
“Look, Jay Webber would be a formidable candidate… you can’t take Jay lightly,” said Bucco, a lawyer from Boonton Township.
Bucco praised Frelinghuysen for setting “an example for good government that will be remembered for a long, long time.”
The incumbent, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was considered a moderate for most of his career and always breezed to re-election. But Frelinghuysen’s support for President Trump’s agenda, and his refusal to hold town hall meetings, sparked intense grassroots opposition.
Frelinghuysen’s chances this fall had been rated a “toss-up” by the nonpartisan site Inside Elections.
Challengers include Republican Martin Hewitt and Democrats Mikie Sherrill, Mitchell Cobert, Tamara Harris and Mark Washburne. The Democrats are scheduled to speak on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, at a 7 pm forum at the Alfred Vail School, at 175 Speedwell Ave. in Morris Township.
Bucco, a father of six, has served in the Assembly since 2010. If he runs for Congress, he will stress leadership, he said.
“Well look, I’ve spent my entire career trying to bring people together. And that’s really what’s driving me in this race. I think people are looking for leadership, leadership that’s willing to listen to all sides, and in the end, bring people together. And that’s what I intend to do,” he said.
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, when asked if he would feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear trigger, Bucco said he was confident Trump would surround himself with good advisers.
Asked on Saturday for his opinion of President Trump, Bucco grinned and excused himself.
“I gotta go. Honestly!” he said.