ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury Township Attorney Anthony Bucco would do his best to continue handling the town’s legal matters if he decides to run for Congress but would be forced to resign if he was elected, he said this week.

Bucco, who is also a state Assemblyman representing Roxbury, is thinking about running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by 71-year-old U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-11th Dist.). Frelinghuysen on Jan. 29 announced his plans to retire.

Shortly afterward, Bucco created an “exploratory committee” composed, so far, of about 20 people, primarily Morris County Republican players.

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“This exploratory committee will help me understand whether we can be successful in raising money, building a large volunteer-driven grassroots organization and communicating a message of smaller government, a strong national defense, growing jobs and protecting taxpayers,” said Bucco in a statement provided by Mercury, a Westfield public relations company.

In an email, Bucco said he is interested in Frelinghuysen’s seat because he thinks he might be able to help dilute some of the partisanship in Congress and the nation.

“I believe that the country is horribly divided,” he said. “I have always worked to bring people together and that has been proven by my ability to get things accomplished in Trenton despite being in the minority party.  I am hopeful that I will be able to utilize my leadership skills to convince people to put party politics aside and work together.  I truly believe that we have more that unites us then divides us.  That is what we all should be working towards.”

Asked how he would be able to continue serving as Roxbury’s lawyer while campaigning, Bucco said his law firm colleagues are there to help.

“I would continue to devote as much of my time to Roxbury as possible,” he said. “My law firm has many well qualified lawyers that have already assisted me during my tenure and have attended council meeting when I have been unable to attend.”

If elected, Bucco would let go of the Roxbury job, he said. “First, I have not decided on whether I will run yet,” he commented. “However, if I do and I am successful, I would not be able to serve as the township attorney as congress is a full-time position.”

Bucco, of Boonton, contended that Frelinghuysen’s decision came as a surprise. “Rodney has been a tremendous leader for New Jersey and our nation, and his retirement was unexpected,” he said in the statement. “In the 48 hours since his announcement, my wife Amy and I have been incredibly humbled by the encouragement of Republican leaders across the county who are helping us explore a run to fill Rodney’s enormous shoes in Congress.”