’s Weekly Campaign Notebook for April 3

As we get closer to the June 8 primary election, will post a weekly notebook of press releases produced by the candidates.


A coalition of 24 urban mayors released a joint statement today slamming Republican gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli’s plan to impose discriminatory voter suppression laws in New Jersey.

“Recently, our nation has seen an alarming rise in partisan efforts to enact voting restrictions that disproportionately disenfranchise people of color and weaken our democracy. The fight to secure voting rights and end voter suppression directly impacts members of our communities, many of whom are people of color, who’ve long been the target of voting restrictions under the guise of election integrity.

“These are people who fully participate in and make our communities stronger, and yet we’re witnessing a concerted effort to prevent them from having a voice in shaping the direction of their future. That is basic injustice—an injustice that belongs as a chapter of history in the 1960s rather than 2021 and the future of New Jersey.

 “As elected leaders representing diverse communities across New Jersey, we strongly reject the shameful proposals that have been championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and members of the Legislature to impose discriminatory voter ID requirements and to purge New Jerseyans from voter rolls.

 “While Republicans like Assemblyman Ciattarelli want to drag our state back, Governor (Phil) Murphy has been steadfastly committed to a whole-of-government approach that expands democracy and removes barriers to the ballot box, enacting automatic voter registration, in-person early voting, and restoring the voting rights of those on probation and parole, among other important measures.

 “We can’t allow divisive rhetoric and Jim Crow-era assaults on voting rights to take New Jersey backward. We can’t accept leaders who openly undermine the basic principles of our democracy. The more people who are eligible to vote, and the easier we make it for them to cast a ballot, the stronger our communities will be.”

 The joint statement issued included Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Passaic City Mayor Hector Lora, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, West New York Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, and Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis.

State Senate and Assembly

Upper Saddle River Councilwoman DeAnne DeFuccio won a special election convention for State Assembly in the 39th district to fill the seat vacated by Holly Schepisi.

DeFuccio defeated Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti by seven votes, 88-81.

Schepisi was elected to the Senate earlier this month following the death of Gerald Cardinale, who had served in the Senate for nearly 40 years.  She resigned the Assembly seat she’d held for almost a decade before she was sworn in to the Senate. In a March 9 special election convention, Schepisi defeated Assemblyman Bob Auth by eight votes, 111-103.

Initially, DeFuccio had been slated to run with Auth on a ticket headed by Cardinale.

“After an election last night and one a few weeks ago, I appreciate that the county Committee came out again tonight and chose the candidate they felt was the best choice for D39,” DeFuccio said. “I enjoyed campaigning with Bob. I look forward to working together with Holly and Bob as part of the District 39 Team representing all of our constituents.”

DeFuccio is now expected to run on the Bergen County Republican organization line for a two-year term in the June primary on a slate with Schepisi and Auth.

But DeFuccio and Auth appear likely to face a primary challenge. Former Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman Jon Kurpis told the New Jersey Globe that he intends to team up with Azzariti.

“We will run off the line if that’s the way it works out,” Kurpis said. “I don’t think (Bergen County Republican Chairman) Jack (Zisa) should placate Auth. He’s the chairman and I’ll respect his wishes and run off the line if he insists.” 


Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle recently highlighted Democratic Committee of Bergen County’s (DCBC) Senate Candidate Assemblyman Gordon Johnson pandering to the gun lobby.

In 2013, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, in his ongoing habit of trying to have it all ways on controversial issues, spoke before the 2nd Amendment Society, an organization whose mission is to “to prevent NJ from being used as a laboratory to destroy the Second Amendment nationwide.” The group has consistently attacked progressive Democrats like Governor Murphy.

In his 2013 speech, Assemblyman Johnson was asked about comments made by State Sen. Loretta Weinberg on gun control, Assemblyman Johnson responded that Senator Weinberg is “more liberal than I am.”

The Vainieri Huttle campaign stated the “hypocrisy at its finest -behaving one way in Trenton and then pandering to special interests as soon as the pressure mounts. District 37 deserves a leader who will remain true to their values.”

Johnson’s hypocrisy and pandering are only made worse by recent tragic events as we witnessed horrific shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. The gun lobby relies on elected officials like Johnson who pay lip service to gun safety but also wink to the gun lobby that they don’t really care.

“Gordon Johnson said it himself- he’s no liberal,” said Huttle campaign Communications Director Katie Wertheimer. “We can’t depend on Assemblyman Johnson because he says whatever he thinks will get him votes. It’s always politics and never principles with Gordon Johnson.”


Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna announced his support for the Democratic slate led by Gordon Johnson in the 37th Legislative District race.

“In the race for two Assembly seats, candidates Ellen Park and Shama Haider join Senate candidate Gordon Johnson as the most diverse and effective team ever seen in the 37th District,” Zinna said.

“The 37th District is the most diverse community in the state. Johnson, Park and Haider directly reflect this community. Gordon Johnson has earned, through hard work and commitment to be our next State Senator in the 37th.  Assembly candidates Ellen Park and Shama Haider are both leaders in their communities and understand how to move our state forward.”

“Johnson, Park and Haider have dedicated their lives to public service. It is important to elect candidates whose experiences directly reflect the lives of the people they represent. We can’t just talk about diversity and inclusion; we have to act to make it happen.”

Prior to his election as Mayor, Zinna was elected to three terms on the Tenafly Borough Council.


Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce did not receive the endorsement of Morris County Republicans for her reelection bid in the 26th Legislative District.

Christian Barranco, an electrician by trade, secured the second Assembly nomination with 87 votes. DeCroce got 78.

Jay Webber, the district’s other incumbent, got 117. LD-26 includes four towns in Essex County—Fairfield, North Caldwell, West Caldwell and Verona—and West Milford in Passaic, but Morris is the biggest piece.

DeCroce, who got to the Assembly after the death of her husband, Alex, in 2012, said  in the immediate aftermath of the vote that she was confident of winning a primary.


Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce statement on winning the Essex County GOP endorsement and line: “Thank you to Essex County GOP Chairman Al Barlas and the entire Committee for their strong endorsement. I am proud to run on their line and with their great slate of candidates in the primary. I am going to fight for every vote and this endorsement is a big step in our march to victory in June.”


Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti said he plans to run off the line in the  31st Legislative District.

“From securing funding for Bayonne’s schools, the walkway project, and the pedestrian bridge over 440, to raising the minimum wage, establishing the Community College Opportunity Grant Program, revising civil asset forfeiture procedures, providing pre-k for all and standing up for our senior citizens and immigrant brothers and sisters, I am proud of the pragmatic, progressive record of results we have achieved. I am in public service because I love my community, and I am filing my petitions to seek re-election to the Assembly because I want to continue to make Bayonne, Jersey City and Hudson County an even greater place to live and work.”


Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-35) of New Jersey’s 35th Legislative District endorsed Gordon M. Johnson for State Senate.

“I have worked alongside Gordon Johnson in the State Assembly and on the Assembly’s Budget Committee for nearly a decade. You could not find a more committed or more responsible public servant. As members of the Legislative Black Caucus, we have worked on countless pieces of legislation to address inequalities in our Black and brown communities as well as initiatives to rebuild urban areas suffering from decades of systemic neglect.

“Recently, we worked closely to invest revenues from marijuana sales back into the communities most impacted by the devastating war on drugs and together, we spearheaded the program to grant startup capital for Black and brown entrepreneurs. There’s no better candidate to replace Senator Weinberg in the State Senate and it will be a proud day to see Johnson sworn in as the first Black State Senator from Bergen County.”


The Morris County Democratic Committee announced their candidates for the NJ State Legislature in LD25.

They are:

  • Jeff Grayzel, Mayor of Morris Township, running for State Senate
  • Lauren Barnett, former Mayor and current Deputy Mayor of Mountain Lakes, running for State Assembly
  • Patricia Veres, Council Member in Wharton from 2017-2019, running for State Assembly

“As local elected leaders, we understand the everyday issues that residents in our district face,” said Grayzel, Barnett and Veres in a press statement.Our focus has been on getting things done in our communities, leading with a positive vision and a pragmatic, problem-solving approach. We are running for the New Jersey Legislature to bring our “on the ground” experience to the state-level, and believe we are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between Trenton and our local communities.”


In a statement of support, Tenafly Councilman Daniel Park endorsed Gordon Johnson for State Senate as well as Shama Haider and Ellen Park for State Assembly in Legislative District 37.

“This ticket makes me proud to be a part of the Democratic Party. It’s a distinct pleasure to be able to endorse a group of people I deeply respect, admire, and believe in. There has been no greater advocate for the Korean community in Trenton than Gordon Johnson, and today we have the opportunity to send him to the State Senate alongside Ellen Park, a fearless leader who would be the first Korean American woman legislator in New Jersey history.

“Shama Haider has been a mentor, friend, and ally. She was the person who first asked me to run for Council in Tenafly, because she understood the vital need for Asian representation in our borough. All three members of this historic ticket bring new perspectives and different experiences and together, they are a perfect representation of the diversity and values of this district. I can’t wait to watch them make history come November.”


Democratic candidates Ruth Dugan, Melinda Iannuzzi, and Karlito Almeda filed over 700 petition signatures for their upcoming bid to represent New Jersey’s 39th Legislative District in the State Senate and General Assembly. Prior to the recent submission deadline, the Democratic slate collected nearly four times the minimum amount of signatures required to land on the ballot this summer, demonstrating a clear appetite for change among the constituents who have been represented by Republican legislators for close to half a century.

Despite a slight Republican voter registration advantage in the district, voters in New Jersey’s 39th have leaned Democratic in recent statewide and federal elections – signaling a distinct shift away from a national Republican Party that struggled to maintain appeal among everyday, working class voters.

“The outpouring of support our slate has received is a clear indication that our constituents are hungry for elected leaders who will return to civility and reach across the aisle to get things done. That’s what we look forward to bringing to Trenton,” said Dugan.

“We’ve been on the ground, organizing and talking with our constituents for months. As a Mayor, I know first hand that people are more concerned with potholes than they are with politics. The time for elected leaders who are willing to listen to the actual needs of our community is long overdue,” added Iannuzzi.

“People want to be heard, they want to see their legislators, and they want their representatives to see and validate their experiences. We’re ready to bring that change to Trenton,” said Almeda.


According to the New Jersey Globe, of the 16,347 New Jerseyans added to the voter rolls in March 2021, 47% are Democrats and just 12% are Republicans, according to registration records from the state Division of Elections.

The state added 7,686 more Democrats, 2,019 more Republicans, and an additional 5,789 unaffiliated voters – often referred to as independents — last month.

New Jersey now has 1,089,740 more Democrats than Republicans as Gov. Phil Murphy seeks to become the first Democratic governor in 44 years to win re-election to a second term.

The state now has 122,894 more Democrats than voters without a party affiliation.

New Jersey’s 7th congressional district, where Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7) was re-elected last year by a margin of just 1%, Democrats outpaced Republicans in new registrations by a 10-1 margin. The 7th added 768 more Democrats and 73 more Republicans.

The 3rd district added 156 new Democrats and lost 54 Republicans. The 5th Congressional District added 134 more Democrats and lost 147 Republicans, and Democrats in the 11th Congressional District increased their ranks by 514, while Republicans lost 210 voters.

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