As we get closer to the June 8 primary election, North-JerseyNews.com will post a weekly notebook of press releases produced by the candidates.
Facing an attacks from his GOP primary opponents, the Gov. Phil Murphy campaign is looking to cast Republican gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli as dishonestly attempting to recast himself as an “outsider” despite his lengthy track record as a card-carrying member of the New Jersey GOP establishment.
Assemblyman Ciattarelli’s campaign biography conveniently omits the fact that he’s a longtime political insider. In reality, his political career began in 1990 and included stints as a Raritan Borough Councilman, as a Somerset County Freeholder, and as Christie Christie’s top cheerleader in the New Jersey Legislature. This is Ciattarelli’s 31st year in politics — some experts suggest the appropriate gift is a timepiece to mark the long duration of his career running for office after office.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Ciattarelli has kept himself busy by desperately courting Trump’s far-right base — headlining a “Stop the Steal Rally,” attending maskless indoor campaign events, and aligning himself with an Oath Keeper candidate.
What’s worse for Jack? His loyalty to Trump and support for the former president’s policies, which Ciattarelli believes “worked for the country,” hasn’t reassured GOP voters. According to one report, fellow establishment insider and Trump fanatic Senator Joe Pennacchio has made it clear “he doesn’t love” Assemblyman Ciattarelli.
“In the midst of a primary fight for Trump loyalty, Assemblyman Ciattarelli has repeatedly shown that he’s willing to do or say anything to win,” said Murphy for Governor Spokesman Jerrel Harvey. “While the Assemblyman is hoping to rebrand himself as an outsider, he’s nothing more than an establishment politician who enabled the disastrous Christie agenda and has spent his entire career putting special interests ahead of New Jersey values — with a long career like that, no wonder he wants to hide it.”
New Jersey gubernatorial primary debates have been set for May 25 and 26.
This year’s debates will involve only Republican candidates because no challenger has raised enough funds ($490,000) to qualify for a debate against Democratic incumbent Governor Phil Murphy, who is seeking reelection.
Two Republican candidates have qualified for the debates- accountant and former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset County and businessman Hirsh Singh of Atlantic County.
The first debate will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday May 25 and sponsored by New Jersey 101.5 FM
(WKXY-FM) in the station’s Ewing studio. It will be broadcast live on New Jersey 101.5 FM radio with video streaming on Facebook and Youtube.
The second debate will be held 8 p.m. Wednesday May 26 and sponsored by NJ PBS. It will air live on NJ PBS television channels and at http://www.NJSpotlightNews.org. The debate will be virtual. Candidates will not be together in a studio but will appear via internet transmission from their home or other location.
Both debates will be 60 minutes. The primary election is June 8. Under state law, all candidates who qualify for public matching funds must participate in at least two debates during each election. Candidates not seeking public funds who commit to raising and spending at least $490,000 also can participate.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced endorsements for several 2021 races throughout New Jersey.
“CWA is proud to endorse this stellar group of pro-union candidates,” said Fran Ehret, CWA NJ State Director, “After the year we’ve all been through, now more than ever, we need leaders at all levels – from our towns to legislative districts to the county level and all the way up to the Governor’s Office – who fight for the issues that matter to working families.”
Among those backed by the CWA are Gov. Phil Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, along with Valerie Vainieri Huttle for State Senate and Gervonn Romney-Rice and Lauren Dayton in the 37th.
“CWA is ecstatic to stand behind and alongside these candidates,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District 1. “We know these men and women have our backs, and they’ll fight for New Jersey’s middle-class and working families. The incumbents have been there for CWA members through the years as effective leaders. And we know the challengers will help uplift working people, too.”
State Senate and Assembly
After calling on her opponent to participate in three debates prior to the June 8th primary, Valerie Vainieri Huttle issued the following statement following the first debate of the campaign, hosted by New Jersey Globe:
“Elections should be just like any other job interview, the most effective candidate, the candidate with the best record, should win. Last night, I was proud to present my record and platform to the voters. A record is about more than how you vote, it’s about who you fight for. You can’t just be a vote, you have to be a voice.”
“Last night, I proved to the voters of District 37 that I fight for them. While Gordon Johnson was unprepared and unwilling to make his views known, I was proud to share my platform and values clear to the voters.”
“And now, after six weeks and an hour-long debate, the question still remains, why can’t Gordon Johnson come clean about the allegations against him of sexual misconduct? I’ve spent my career as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, Gordon abused his power to try and trade sex for a City Council seat.”
“Gordon and I differed on a number of core issues- I’m for stronger police accountability- as an ex-policemen, Johnson is against it. I’m for making the legislature more open and transparent- he is opposed and I was clear that we need to reform our politics while Gordon embraced the worst of the status quo, saying ‘the system is what it is.’”
“And to top it all off, Gordon Johnson seems to think that the problem of misogyny and unfair representation of women in politics is solved. I can promise you, it’s not.”
State Sen. Joe Lagana (D-38) plans to endorse Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) for Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s seat in the upper chamber.
“We’ve had conversations before, and obviously I’m endorsing the line. Governor all the way down. Gordon has the party line, so naturally he would have my support in all of this,” Lagana told the New Jersey Globe Thursday. “As far as a formal announcement, there may be one coming, but as of today I haven’t done it yet. But we’re having those conversations.”
State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-39) is endorsing two challengers for State Assembly against incumbents in the June Republican primary.
Schepisi is backing Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti and former Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman Jon Kurpis against Assembly members Robert Auth (R-39) and DeAnne DeFuccio (R-39).
“Having known Dr. John Azzariti and Jonathan Kurpis for many years, I believe they have the vision and experience we need to win in November and move our state in the right direction,” Schepisi said.
Schepisi is unopposed for the GOP Senate nomination.
Schepisi defeated Auth by eight votes and vacated the Assembly seat she’d held for more than nine years to take her Senate seat in March.
Schepisi is running on the Bergen County Republican organization line with Auth and DeFuccio, and with Azzariti and Kurpis in Passaic.
“As members of the State Assembly, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Senator Schepisi to put New Jersey families first, ensure the health and safety of our residents, and get our economy moving again,” Azzariti and Kurpis said in a statement.
Morris County Sheriff Jim Gannon announced his endorsement of Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) in this year’s Republican Primary election today, calling her a fierce advocate for Morris County in the State Legislature, while lauding her efforts on behalf of fellow Republicans on the grassroots level for years.
“I stand by my friends, and BettyLou is a friend,” said Sheriff Gannon. “More than that, though, she is a fierce advocate for Morris County families, retirees, and business owners. We are fortunate to have her representing us in the State Assembly and she has earned re-election.”
Gannon added that DeCroce has also been a friend to many local and county Republicans during their campaigns, including his own.
“I’ve watched BettyLou knock on doors, stuff envelopes, and raise money for local candidates to help them win tough elections,” said Sheriff Gannon. “She was there for me when I first ran, and I’ve seen her lend a hand to fellow Republicans when it mattered most. We need more people like that in our party, not less. I am proud to stand with BettyLou.”
New Jersey Women pen open letter telling Gordon Johnson, the glass ceiling is far from shattered.
“New Jersey Spotlight recently released a devastating report on the state of women candidates in New Jersey’s 2021 election. Out of the 4 open State Senate seats in New Jersey, there are 11 candidates running, only one of those candidates is a woman, that woman is Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
And on the heels of this report, the Bergen Record reported that women occupy just 30% of elected positions in New Jersey municipalities and the state legislature. The state of gender equity in New Jersey politics is shameful, we lag behind two dozen states in the nation.
And so, we were understandably stunned and disappointed when during a debate between Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gordon Johnson, Gordon Johnson dismissed Vainieri Huttle for working to “break the glass ceiling” because the District 37 Senate Seat is currently held by a woman.
Only one woman has ever held the State Senate seat in District 37, Senator Loretta Weinberg, the very elected official who established a working group to prevent sexism and misogyny in New Jersey politics.
For Gordon Johnson to insinuate that the glass ceiling has “shattered” in New Jersey because District 37 has elected just one woman in its history is indicative of a shocking contempt for and a baffling lack of understanding about the experiences of women and the barriers that we experience.
The fact of the matter is, sexism and misogyny are alive and well in New Jersey politics, the glass ceiling is alive and well. We know, we can tell you from experience.”
The letter was signed by Patricia Campos Medina; Fran Ehret; Katie Brennan; Sue Altman; Lauren Albrecht; Jackie Cornell; Laura Matos; Elizabeth Meyer; Yarrow Willman-Cole; Linda A. Weber; Roxanne Sutocky; Laura Fortgang; Tiffany Kaszuba; Marcia Marley; India Hayes Larrier; Carla Pappalardo; Stacey Gunderman; Lisa Bhimani; Bella Bhimani; Michele Liebtag; Truscha Quatrone; Shari Weiner; Arati Kreibich; Janet Gray; Mary Heveran; and Jacqueline Kates
A prominent group of Black ministers and faith leaders in Bergen County came together to endorse the historically diverse Democratic slate, headed by Gordon Johnson for State Senate and Anthony Cureton for Sheriff.
“This is a proud day for our community, our county, and the entire State of New Jersey. In one trip to the voting booth, we have the historic opportunity to send a Black man to the State Senate for the first time in Bergen County history, reelect the county’s first elected Black Sheriff, send the first Korean American woman to Trenton in New Jersey history, and send the first Pakistani American and first Muslim to the halls of the statehouse,” said Rev. Gregory Jackson. “We all know there’s still a long way to go on the path of justice and equality for all but with this ticket from Bergen County, we will travel down that path at a much faster pace.”
“Come November, District 37 voters will be voting on possibly the most diverse, most inclusive, most impressive slate of candidates in the history of New Jersey,” said Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller. “It’s not every day you get to make history but when you are given the chance, you take it.”
“We like to say New Jersey is the most diverse state in the nation, but that means next to nothing without diversity at the decision making table,” said Rev. Calvin McKinney. “Electing Gordon Johnson to the state’s upper house is key to bringing more equity and diversity to state appointments and judgeships, making not only Bergen County but the all entire State of New Jersey fairer, more equal, and better represented.”
Additional faith leaders endorsing the Democratic Committee of Bergen County’s slate includes: Rev. John Bazemore; Rev. Eric Brewer; Rev. Arthur Bryant; Bishop Winston Christian; Pastor Elmo Crocker; Rev. Dr. Robert Curry; Rev. Timothy Daugett; Rev. Carolyn Davis; Rev. John Givens; Rev. M. Elouise Hill Challenger; Rev. Innica Humphrey; Rev. Dwayne J. Jackson; Rev. Gregory Jackson; Rev. Ivor Keizer; Rev. Dr. Drew Kendall Ross; Rev. George Maize; Rev. Adrian McFarlane; Rev. Calvin McKinney; Rev. Elaine Merritt; Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller; Rev. Peg Niederer; Rev. Dr. John O. Page; Rev. Shaun Pate; Rev. Joann Pearson; Rev. Neil Pereira; Elder Roydel Plummer; Rev. Henry Redmond; Rev. Dorian Schenk; Rev. Dr. Booker T. Sears; Rev. Robert Smith; Rev. Eddie Spencer; Rev. Fred Sullivan; Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor; and Rev. Javis Williamson.
T.C. McCourt, A.J. Oliver, and Dina Mikulka announced the formation of their joint candidate committee, A Stronger Morris. The committee will be the primary fundraising and messaging vehicle for the Democratic candidates’ campaign for Morris County Commissioner.
Candidates McCourt, Oliver, and Mikulka released the following joint statement: “Campaigns cost money. A lot of money. And they require an army of volunteers. By forming this committee early, we will be able to maximize our fundraising potential and more effectively build the campaign infrastructure that we will need to win in November.”
“The three of us are running for County Commissioner for some pretty simple reasons. While our opponents think everything is perfect and that there is no room for improvement, we profoundly disagree. We believe Morris County can be better. We believe Morris County can be stronger. Over the course of the next six months we intend to prove that to the people of Morris County, and give them the opportunity to make a change.”
A Stronger Morris is proud to have Leslye Moya serve as Campaign Chair. Moya is the Political Director of the Morris County Democratic Committee and Secretary of the Morris County Young Democrats. A a resident of Butler, Moya previously led the field organization that helped to elect Dover’s first Black and first female Mayor in 2019.
Serving as Treasurer will be Austin Ashley. Ashley has been a resident of Mountain Lakes, where he lives with his wife Laura and their three children, since 2016. He is a former resident of the Borough of New Milford in Bergen County, where he served on the Borough Council from 2011 to 2015.
“We are so proud of the team we’ve assembled thus far. Through Leslye and Austin’s participation, we are two steps closer to victory in November. And as the team grows, so will our potential to win.”
32BJ SEIU, the largest property services union in the country, with 13,000 members in New Jersey, announced today its endorsement of Timothy Dougherty as the Mayor of Morristown as well as, 8 council at large positions in both Morristown and Hackensack.
This last round of endorsement for primary elections came after virtual screening sessions, where members had the opportunity to address concerns regarding township policies and their effect in their livelihood and well-being. Between, Morristown and Hackensack, 32BJ has almost 800 workers spanning all divisions.
32BJ SEIU Vice President and New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown made the announcement today on behalf of the union’s members. “Most of the decisions made at the township government level have a direct impact in the lives of workers. Therefore, it is imperative that we endorse candidates with progressive values, and that would support the union’s mission to change the lives of the members for the better and improve our communities. We look forward to having them in office and working together.”
The endorsements for Morristown are for mayor Timothy Dougherty and for council-at-large, Nathan Umbriac, Toshiba Foster and David Silva. In Hackensack, the five council-at-large candidates being backed are Leila Amirhamzeh, Randy Glover, Andee Post, Caseen Gaines and Mary Lopez.