ROXBURY, NJ - State Sen. Tony Bucco, who also serves as Roxbury's township attorney, today declared an election victory over his Democrat opponent Rupande Mehta.
Although the Morris County Board of Elections has yet to finish counting votes, Bucco, R-25th Dist., said in a statement that he is confident about his decision to proclaim a win. His campaign also said Roxbury's representative in the state Assembly, Republican Aura Dunn, was en route to winning over her Democrat challenger, Darcy Draeger.
The official website that publishes county election results was last updated Tuesday evening. At that time, it showed Bucco leading Mehta 43,297 to 40,361 and Dunn leading Draeger 41,552 – 41,256. However, in a press release, Bucco's campaign appeared to rely on more updated numbers.
"With more than 102,000 ballots counted ... Current tallies have Bucco leading by nearly 6,000 votes (53 – 47 percent), and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn leading by nearly 3,000 (51.5 – 48.5 percent)," said the press release. "These leads are expected to grow in the coming days as the Morris County Board of Elections concludes its counting."
The campaign conceded that 20,000 ballots or more remain to be counted. However, it said, "the partisan mix of those voters is made up overwhelmingly of Republican registrants, based on public records available from the Board of Elections. Further, current vote tallies suggest Bucco and Dunn are leading among unaffiliated voters in the district."
Mehta could not immediately be reached for comment, but Draeger's campaign suggested Bucco and Dunn were jumping the gun. "This is very premature," it said in a Facebook message. "We'll wait for all the votes to be counted before we issue a statement."
“I’m extremely humbled to have earned the support once again of the residents of Morris and Somerset counties in this year’s campaign," Bucco said. "Aura and I ran on a message of bipartisan leadership throughout the pandemic, against the Murphy administration’s funding cuts to our schools and fighting to stop the unsustainable tax-and-spend mindset in Trenton.”
Bucco praised Mehta's decision to get involved in politics.
“It is never an easy decision to run for elected office and campaigns require a great sacrifice by our families - to that I want to commend Ms. Mehta for putting her name forward and thank her for the campaign she ran," he said. “Additionally, I’m proud of the campaign Aura and I ran together. She was a great partner and teammate throughout this challenging election year."
Bucco, of Boonton, took over the unexpired seat of his father, former state Sen. Anthony Bucco, when the elder Bucco died in September 2019 after serving 21 years in the Senate. Dunn was appointed by the GOP to the then-vacant Assembly seat.
In the victory statement, the Bucco campaign noted that GOP President Donald Trump "lost the district by approximately 14 points." It said Bucco and Dunn "assembled an aggressive media and volunteer-driven grassroots campaign to win over independent voters, and turn out Republicans in a brand new all-vote-by-mail election" that saw a voter turnout "likely to come close or exceed 80 percent in District 25."
Nevertheless, the county website showed, as of Tuesday, that Democrat Cary Amaro was leading incumbent Republican Morris County Freeholder Tayfun Selen 99,396 – 97,231.
The county has stressed that final election results might not be available until Nov. 20.