In the last year, State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) has spearheaded efforts to remove misogyny in New Jersey politics.
According to Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, it is a lesson that the Democratic bosses in Weinberg’s district have not yet learned.
Vainieri Huttle is in a race to be the State Senator Democratic nominee replacing the retiring Weinberg in the 37th Legislative District against her colleague in the Assembly, Gordon Johnson.
Both have spent the last two months receiving backing from political leaders and key grassroots organizations in order to win the Bergen County Democratic organization line at its convention on March 15, seen as key to winning the primary in June.
No matter the nominee, there will be an opening for an Assembly seat—which is where Democratic insiders are reportedly growing impatient with Vainieri Huttle who is feeling pressured by party leaders to give up her campaign before making her case at the convention next month.
According to a New Jersey Globe article, Fort Lee Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky is considering entering the Assembly race for the Democratic nomination in the 37th district unless Vainieri Huttle drops her run for State Senate. Timing is key here as the filing deadline to run at the Bergen Democratic convention is Feb. 23.
Kasofsky, a member of county chairman Paul Juliano’s leadership team as the secretary of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, would join Palisades Park Mayor Christopher Chung and Teaneck Democratic Municipal Chair Alexandra Soriano-Taveras in seeking an Assembly seat.
It’s a move Vainieri Huttle sees—and we agree—as pushing her to back down from her State Senate bid.
“The stakes are too high for people to be playing chicken with public office. I am not threatened and I will not be silenced,” Vainieri Huttle said. “It is really sad that in 2021 some people think threatening women in power still works.”
The Assemblywoman added, “The arrogance and entitlement that I have experienced throughout this process is disturbing. Let’s let the democratic process play out, or is that what they’re scared of?”
The party would be hurt by the loss of two experienced Assembly members from North Jersey in the same year. An ill-advised whisper campaign against Vainieri Huttle is exactly the kind of behavior Weinberg has fought against her whole career.
It’s a lesson Bergen Democrats need to be reminded that the old days of bullying—especially women—to get their way are over.