In Brief

Lawmakers pay tribute to late Assemblyman Ron Dancer

By: - July 25, 2022 8:27 am

A conservative Republican from Ocean County, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer served the state for nearly two decades. (Courtesy of New Jersey Assembly GOP)

Condolences poured in over the weekend for Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, who died Saturday after battling an illness. He was 73.

A conservative Republican from Ocean County, Dancer served the state for nearly two decades. He represented the 12th district, which includes parts of Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties.

Dancer was known in Ocean County for his horse breeding and racing. He took after his father, an internationally known trainer whose three horses raced in Triple Crowns.

“True to his roots in one of New Jersey’s storied equestrian racing families, in public service he was a workhorse, not a show horse. A proud veteran with a quiet demeanor and humble nature, Ron built friendships across the aisle,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.

Raised in New Egypt, Dancer graduated from Rutgers University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971.

His political career began when he was chosen to be mayor of Plumsted Township, a position he held from 1990 to 2011. He won a special election to the state Assembly in 2002 and served as an assemblyman until his death.

Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Middlesex), who represents the 12th District, said Dancer served “with tireless energy and unwavering commitment.”

“He was a true gentleman in the Legislature,” Thompson said. “He will be missed in the halls of the Statehouse and in the local municipalities he loved.”

Over the last two decades, Dancer sponsored bills related to horse racing, local shopping programs, and wildlife industries. Earlier this month, Murphy signed a bill into law sponsored by Dancer that expands the number of military families who qualify for a Gold Star ID card.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) in a statement said Dancer strived to work across the aisle and to advocate on behalf of members of the military.

“He was also a champion for New Jersey’s agricultural and horse racing communities and contributed greatly to innovative expansions of our state’s tourism – most recently being the sponsor of legislation that will widen economic opportunity for our wineries and farms,” Coughlin said in a statement. “His absence will certainly be felt by all of us in the Assembly and by the residents of Ocean County he faithfully served.”

Dancer served as deputy minority leader during his time in the Assembly. Most recently, he served on the agriculture, military and veterans’ affairs, and tourism and arts committees.

“Ron’s 20 years in the Assembly are marked not only by his tireless efforts to serve his constituents, even during his illness, but his willingness to work across party lines to accomplish what he believed was best for all New Jerseyans,” Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren), his party’s leader in the chamber, said in a statement. “He was a true patriot, statesman, gentleman, and my good friend. He will be sorely missed.”

Dancer is survived by Brenda, his wife of 54 years, and his two children and three grandchildren.

Murphy announced that flags will fly at half-staff in honor of Dancer.


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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.