As we get closer to the June 7 primary election date, North-JerseyNews.com will post a weekly notebook of press releases produced by the candidates.
5th Congressional District
In the 5th district, investment banker Frank Pallotta will again have the Passaic GOP line for his rematch against Rep. Josh Gottheimer in the 5th district. He defeated Nick De Gregorio, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A third candidate, businessman Fred Schneiderman, appeared before the screening committee but said he would not compete for the line.
7th Congressional District
New polling shows released by the Malinowski campaign on Feb. 16. the race for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District is up for grabs. A recent survey of 600 likely voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows Rep. Tom Malinowski tied with potential challenger Tom Kean, Jr., 46-46% (8% undecided) even though the district is rated lean Republican and national polls show significant challenges for Democrats.
Post-redistricting, NJ-07 is one of just 17 districts left in the country where the margin between Biden and Trump was under 5 points, and thus one of the few remaining districts likely to decide the House majority.
“The boundaries changed, but the nature of this race hasn’t. This district is highly competitive just as it was in previous cycles,” said Campaign Manager Stacy Cohen. “In a national environment and redistricting process favorable to Republicans, the race is dead even. Voters know and trust Congressman Malinowski. He shares their values, works hard and delivers for them, and that’s why they’re going to re-elect him.”
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. narrowly defeated Assemblyman Erik Peterson at the Hunterdon County Republican Convention, scoring his first organization line as he seeks the GOP nomination to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski in the 7th congressional district.
Kean prevailed over Peterson by seven votes, 67 to 60, on the second ballot – a 53%-47% victory. On the first ballot, Kean’s advantage was far greater, leading Peterson 79 votes to 54 (46%-32%).
Political newcomer John Henry Isemann came in third with a 35 votes – the 27-year-old businessman came within 19 votes of Peterson – or 21%, and salon owner Robert Trugman got two votes.
Phil Rizzo, a former pastor and real estate developer who ran for governor in 2021, did not compete for the nomination, nor did U.S. Navy veteran Sterling Irwin Schwab or licensed public works contractor Kevin Dorlon.
Hunterdon GOP Chairman Gabe Plumer announced tonight that all of the candidates pledged during the screening committee process not to run a line against the organization in the primary.
For the third consecutive campaign cycle, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) endorsed Tom Malinowski for Congress. The CWA includes both private sector and public workers and represents more than 70,000 working families in New Jersey, including over 40,000 state workers, 15,000 county and municipal workers, and thousands of workers in the telecommunications, airlines, healthcare and direct care industries.
The CWA also backed Reps. Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Jr., and Mikie Sherrill, as well as Rob Menendez for Congress.
“Each and every day, these Members of Congress fight for working families and democracy down in Washington DC,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District 1. “They have a strong record, and we’re proud to continue supporting them in these all-important mid-term elections.”
“New Jersey is fortunate to have an impressive delegation of men and women who stand with working families and stand-up for our Union’s values,” said Fran Ehret, CWA NJ State Director. “We enthusiastically back these pro-union candidates to continue their mission.”
“Receiving support from the hard working New Jerseyans of the CWA is such an honor,” said Malinowski. “The CWA has long ensured that NJ journalists, teachers, healthcare providers and more have the right to defend their paycheck, receive quality health and education benefits, and are protected on the job. I’m prepared to continue their fight in the House.”
Tom Kean, Jr. received the unanimous support of the Warren County Republican Executive Committee.
“Republicans in Warren County overwhelmingly and wholeheartedly support Tom Kean for Congress,” said Doug Steinhardt, the GOP county chairman. “To Tom Malinowski, Warren County is just a flyover county. He couldn’t find us on the map, let alone represent us in Congress. We are all in to elect Tom Kean, Jr. and give Warren County a voice in Congress.”
All 22 municipalities in Warren County are now in the 7th after a new map approved by the Congressional Redistricting Commission shifted 15 municipalities from Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s 5th district to 7th.
The decision of Warren County Republican leaders to support Kean, the former minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate, comes one month after Assemblyman Erik Peterson launched own run for Congress in NJ-7. Peterson represents 11 Warren County towns in the legislature.
“Warren County is led by strong, principled leaders here at home, but by a careless, failed Congressman in Tom Malinowski,” said Kean. “Warren County will always be able to count on me in Congress.”
Operating Engineers Local 825, has endorsed Republican Tom Kean, Jr. for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district.
“While politics and politicians have changed throughout the years, Tom Kean, Jr. has remained steadfast, trustworthy and someone the working men and women of New Jersey can count on,” said Greg Lalevee, the union’s business manager. “Whether it comes to defending workers’ rights or fighting for more infrastructure investment, Tom’s support of Operating Engineers and their families has been unrivaled. That is why we offer our full endorsement for his election.”
The endorsement is for the GOP primary, but Local 825 doesn’t typically back one candidate in the primary and another in the general election.
8th Congressional District
Ricardo Rojas has dropped out of the race for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district, leaving just Robert J. Menendez and David Ocampo in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Albio Sires.
“We worked extremely hard this past month and I now see that the runway is too short, that success is not a logistical possibility,” Rojas said. “Making this decision was extremely difficult, but it’s made out of respect to our volunteers, our campaign team, and our progressive movement.”
Menendez, the son of U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, quickly emerged as the front runner late last year. He’s secured organization lines in Hudson and Union counties and endorsements from Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Union City Mayor/State Sen. Brian P. Stack and North Bergen Mayor/State Sen. Nicholas Sacco.
Rojas, an electrical engineer, managed Hector Oseguera’s unsuccessful primary challenge against Sires in 2020.
“I have not lost faith that the aristocracy in New Jersey politics will fall eventually, ” he said. “All unjust systems lay the seeds of their own destruction.”
A former aide and campaign staffer to Gov. Phil Murphy will serve as campaign manager for Rob Menendez’s bid for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district.
Stephanie Lezcano was a field organizer for Murphy’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign and later worked on the transition staff and as a cabinet liaison in the governor’s office. She also spent a year at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before joining the government affairs team at McCarter & English.
“Stephanie is a rising star who represents a new generation of grassroots political expertise, and I am thrilled that she will be leading our campaign,” said Menendez. “As a Latina with outstanding credentials and understanding of campaigns and government, she also represents the diversity, values, and exceptional talent we want to empower through our campaign and attract in the service of the people of this great district.”
“It’s an honor to be back home in New Jersey to lead the Menendez for Congress campaign,” Lezcano said. “We will work tirelessly each day to reach every voter and bring our message to the people of the 8th congressional district.”
Prior to working for Murphy, Lezcano was an intern in the offices of Booker, Rep. Bill Pascrell and State Sen. Nellie Pou, and was an elections outreach assistant at Change.org. She is a board member at the Cuban American Alliance for Leadership and Education, a Hudson County-based group that provides scholarships and leadership development for students of Cuban descent.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced the endorsement of Rob Menendez for Congress.
“I am thankful and humbled to have the support of the hard-working men and women of the Communications Workers of America,” said Rob Menendez, candidate for New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. “CWA has been a stalwart advocate for working families, fighting for living wages and good benefits, and I look forward to championing our shared agenda and priorities in Congress.”
“We are excited to endorse Rob Menendez in this important fight for our state, our nation and the values that matter to our members and their families,” said Fran Ehret, CWA NJ State Director.
9th Congressional District
While Passaic represents small portions of the 5th and 11th districts, the GOP line in the 9th district makes U.S. Air Force veteran Billy Prempeh the front-runner for a rematch against Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. Prempeh defeated realtor Patrick Quinn.
10th Congressional District
Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., announced the endorsement of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka in the Democratic Primary election for the 10th Congressional District seat. Congressman Payne and Mayor Baraka both grew up and continue to live in the South Ward of Newark, and they served together on the City Council.
“Congressman Payne was born in Newark, raised in Newark, and has spent his career fighting for Newark residents – nobody understands our community the way he does,” said Mayor Baraka. “When we faced a public health crisis with thousands of lead pipes that had to be removed to protect our residents, Congressman Payne stepped up immediately with federal funding to get the project started. That’s the kind of leadership we need from our representatives in Washington, and it’s why I’m proud to stand with Congressman Payne.”
“The City of Newark is incredibly fortunate to have a leader like Mayor Baraka at the helm, because he’s fully committed to both revitalizing the community and protecting what makes it such a truly unique and special place,” said Congressman Payne. “There’s nowhere else I would want to live than the South Ward of Newark, and no one I would rather have at my side than Mayor Baraka. I thank him for his support and look forward to supporting him and his team in their own election in May.”
The Laborers’ International North America-Eastern Region (LiUNA), has endorsed Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark) for re-election in New Jersey’s 10th district.
“Donald Payne, Jr., has demonstrated a willingness to support working families and the ability to get things done,” said Ray Pocino, the LiUNA vice president and eastern regional manager.
Pocino, one of New Jersey’s respected labor leaders for the last few decades, took a veiled shot at Imani Oakley, a mountebank vagabond who is challenging Payne in the June Democratic primary.
“Politics has more than enough people who love to speak, love to tweet, but there are fewer and fewer leaders like Donald Payne, Jr., who first and foremost love to serve,” said Pocino, who didn’t mention Oakley by name.
LiUNA has more than 25,000 New Jersey members.
U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr., is announcing his campaign team for the upcoming primary election, an experienced group of political professionals who will help the Congressman spread his message and connect with Democratic voters throughout the 10th District.
“A successful campaign needs strong leadership and I’m proud of the group of professionals we have assembled to bring our message to the people of Essex, Hudson and Union counties,” said Congressman Payne. “Our campaign will ultimately be propelled to victory by grassroots supporters and volunteers from across the district. Together, we will fight to ensure that the communities I serve continue to have a voice in Washington that is willing to stand up for them.”
Rafi Jafri and Bryn D’Andrea of Jafri Strategies and Jennifer Frost of The Frost Group lead the campaign’s fundraising team. Jafri recently worked for Governor Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign, along with D’Andrea. Frost raises for high-profile members of Congress, including New Jersey’s own Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Ron Lester of Lester and Associates is leading the campaign’s polling and research efforts. Lester, a Montclair native, has decades of experience conducting polls for groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as influential members of the House such as Rep. Sanford Bishop and Rep. Yvette Clark. Lester previously worked for Congressman Donald Payne, Sr.
Andrew Kennedy of Kennedy Communications will be handling print and direct mail. His work has helped elect nearly two dozen Democratic Members of Congress, a Governor and two US Senators – in addition to Members of the State Senate and Assembly across New Jersey.
BattleAxe Digital, a DC-based woman-owned business, is responsible for the campaign’s digital work. BattleAxe is led by Jennifer Holcomb who began her career in New Jersey and is now one of the nation’s top digital operatives.
Phil Swibinski of Vision Media will handle communications and digital content. He has recently worked on the re-election campaigns of Governor Murphy and Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) New Jersey union is endorsing Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., in the upcoming Democratic Primary election. Representing over 30,000 current and retired government employees, AFSCME is one of the state’s most prominent progressive labor organizations and a force for workers’ rights, expanding access to health care, voting rights and more.
“Congressman Payne has been a true champion for so many of the issues our members care about most,” said Steve Tully, Executive Director of AFSCME NJ. “He’s a co-sponsor of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, a bill that would expand our members’ collective bargaining rights and make it easier for them to fight for improved wages, benefits, and working conditions. That’s just one way that Congressman Payne is standing up not just for AFSCME members, but for the labor movement as a whole.”
In addition to co-sponsoring the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, Congressman Payne has championed many other issues that are critical to AFSCME and the labor movement as a whole. The Congressman was an original co-sponsor of the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in 2020, which expands various labor protections related to workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. Congressman Payne voted in favor of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, another key legislative priority for AFSCME.
“For the past two years AFSCME members have been on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, ensuring that New Jersey residents have the services and support they need from our government. Their crucial work solves problems ranging from everyday municipal and county issues to food insecurity, vaccine distribution and so much more,” said Congressman Payne. “It’s never been more clear how important these men and women are – the term essential worker is often overused, but in the case of AFSCME members it could not be more relevant. I’m thankful for their support and proud to have their endorsement. I pledge to always stand with working families and the labor movement.”
11th Congressional District
Three GOP municipal chairs and two mayors have endorsed Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district as the race to pick an opponent for Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) continues.
Among the Selen supporters is Louis Valori, Jr., the GOP leader in Parsippany, the largest municipality in the 11th. While Parsippany Republicans have a long history of being fractious, Valori’s support will help Selen pick up county committee votes for next month’s Morris GOP convention.
“Last year’s election shows the Democrats are facing real headwinds from the liberal Biden-Pelosi-Sherill agenda in Washington, and New Jersey voters are craving new leadership to provide affordability and get America back on track,” said Valori. “Tayfun Selen is the best candidate for Republicans, with a proven conservative record and inspiring life story.”
Also backing Selen are: Rockaway Township Councilwoman Rachael Brookes, the GOP municipal chair; Morris Township Republican Municipal Chairman Joe Calvanelli; Rockaway Township Mayor Joe Jackson; and Jefferson Mayor Eric Wilsusen.
“Tayfun’s stopped higher taxes four years in a row by bringing business-smarts to government,” said Wilsusen. “That’s what we need in Washington. Less talk, more action, to deliver greater affordability for New Jersey taxpayers.”
Last week, Selen gained the endorsements of four Morris County commissioners: Kathy DeFillippo, John Krickus, Stephen Shaw and Deborah Smith.
Selen previously announced the backing of Pequannock Mayor Melissa Florance-Lynch, Rockaway Borough Mayor Tom Mulligan, Pequannock Councilwoman Kyle Russell, Randolph Republican Chair Sydney Ugalde, and Chatham Township Republican Chair Daniel Bevere.
Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25), who had been publicly considering a campaign for Congress for the last month, announced to the New Jersey Globe that she will not run for the 11th congressional district against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) this year.
“I will not be a candidate for Congress in 2022,” Dunn said in a statement. “The enormity of support and encouragement for me to enter the race for CD-11 has been incredibly humbling and inspiring. I weighed this decision heavily, as I do with every action I take as a public servant and the assemblywoman for District 25.”
Dunn added that while she would have relished the opportunity to “speak truth to power” in Washington D.C., she felt her voice was also important in the state legislature.
“I am needed in Trenton and will continue to fight against government overreach, our affordability crisis, the inequities in our education system, and the constant attacks on parental rights,” she said.
Dunn, 50, a former top aide to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), began considering a campaign at the urging of several GOP leaders concerned that the field lacked a clear challenger to take on Sherrill; her entry would have been a game changer in a Republican primary where none of the six candidates running have yet caught fire.
The daughter of a U.S. Marine who was a Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam veteran, Dunn was raised by a single mother who worked as the only woman construction apprentice on a job site. Later, she became a lobbyist for Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and worked for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, then a Republican from Pennsylvania.
Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling has decided not to challenge Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in New Jersey’s 11th district.
“It’s just not the right time,” she told the New Jersey Globe. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Darling, who had won two countywide primary and general elections in Morris County, would have been a formidable candidate had she entered the race.
That leaves six candidates in the race to take on Sherrill: Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen; former Kinnelon Council President Larry Casha; former assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot; Robert Kovic, a former Ridgefield Park councilman who now lives in Sussex County; attorney Larry Friscia; and Iraq War veteran Toby Anderson.
In the race for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district, Passaic County Republicans awarded the organization line to Paul DeGroot, a political newcomer and former assistant Passaic County Prosecutor. DeGroot defeated six Republicans candidates – and one possible candidate, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) – in his bid to take on Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 102, has endorsed Rep. Mikie Sherrill for reelection to a third term in New Jersey’s 11th district.
“Mikie Sherrill is a leader who knows how to bring people together and cut through bureaucratic red tape to make life better for residents in New Jersey,” said Patrick R. Delle Cava, IBEW Local 102 Business Manager. “Her work to support union apprenticeship programs, bring infrastructure projects to New Jersey, and support working families during the pandemic is just the leadership we need, and we proudly support her for reelection.”
Della Cave was a trustee of a super PAC allied with former GOP State Chairman Doug Steinhardt’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor, and is serving on a host committee to raise money for a PAC headed by headed by Sherrill’s 2020 opponent, Rosemary Becchi, next month. Assemblyman Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson) is an IBEW Local 102 member.
While the union had contributed to Sherrill in the past, this marks her first IBEW Local 102 endorsement.
“I’m proud to earn the support of the men and women of IBEW Local 102 and I am ready to continue our work together to make New Jersey a better place for working families,” Sherrill said. “Our unions are the backbone of our economy and we have so much left to do to continue bringing good-paying union jobs to New Jersey, supporting workers’ rights, and making sure the next generation of New Jersey workers have every opportunity to succeed.”
Three Morris County Commissioners want Sarah Neibart to join them there next year.
John Krickus, Deborah Smith and Stephen Shaw are backing Neibart, a Mendham Township committeewoman and former mayor, for one of three county commissioner seats at next month’s Morris County GOP convention.
“As County Commissioners, we know that Sarah Neibart is exactly the kind of leader we need with us on the Board of Commissioners. She will bring a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to help us continue to ensure Morris County’s continued prosperity,” Krickus, Smith and Shaw said. “She has a track record of reducing taxes and delivering excellent services in Mendham Township – just the kind of experience, and results-oriented leadership that we need in Morris County.”
Two incumbents, Douglas Cabana and Tom Mastrangelo, are seeking re-election but their running mate in the last two elections, Kathy DeFillippo, is not running again. Cabana and Mastrangelo are backing Pequannock Councilwoman Melissa Florance-Lynch to replace her.
“I am so thankful for the support and trust from these three great public servants,” Neibart said. “I am humbled and energized by this endorsement and the growing momentum of my campaign for Morris County Commissioner.”
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis announced that Loyad Booker, Jr., will be running as the final member of the Team Davis Council slate in the nonpartisan Municipal election in May. Booker is a decorated combat veteran and former Bayonne police officer, and he is running for Council at-Large with Team Davis to bridge the gap between residents and the public safety system, improve services for seniors and invest in cleaner, safer streets in Bayonne. If elected, Booker will become Bayonne’s first Black Council member.
“Loyad Booker has already proven himself to be a selfless and dedicated public servant, and I am proud to be running alongside him on my Council slate,” said Mayor Davis. “Booker knows what it will take to keep our city safe and prioritize the wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents, like our seniors, children and others who need our help. I am confident that we will be able to work together to continue moving Bayonne forward.”
Loyad Booker, Jr., is a lifelong resident of Bayonne, where he graduated from Bayonne High School before going on to attend Kean College and Jersey City State University. A decorated combat veteran, Booker was deployed overseas during Operation Desert Storm as a communication specialist, earning the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Bronze Star. He then worked for the Bayonne Police Department for 25 years until recently retiring, where he worked to improve community policing and crime prevention programs. Booker is an instructor at the Hudson County Public Safety Training Center, helping newly hired officers prepare for the job. He is married with three children.
“I’m running for City Council to improve public safety and quality of life here in Bayonne,” said Booker. “I have spent my life fighting for my community during my service in the Army, as well as on the police force where I have prioritized community oriented policing, and worked with young people as a school resource officer and facilitator of the Dare and Crime Prevention Programs. I have long admired Mayor Davis’ leadership as a constituent, and am looking forward to working with his Administration to deliver for our city.”
Loyad Booker is the fifth and final member of the Team Davis slate, following Councilman at-Large Juan Perez, Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, First Ward Councilman Neal Carroll, and community leader Jacqueline Weimmer who is running in the Second Ward. Mayor Davis officially announced his re-election campaign recently and he will begin announcing his endorsements and other news in the coming weeks.
The New Jersey Working Families Party announced a series of hires who will bring their considerable backgrounds in politics and organizing to the mission of advancing progressive causes around the state.
Arati Kreibich will serve as the new Director of Democracy Organizing, a role that includes managing the NJ Democracy Table, building and executing local, county and municipal democracy plans, implementing national directives and managing key political relationships as well as relationships with funders.
An accomplished community leader and activist, Arati has extensive experience in effectively mobilizing citizens to push for local changes, and has built regional and statewide coalitions around electoral, social justice and environmental issues. Her background is in science, with an undergraduate degree in biology and psychology and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. She was the first South Asian person elected to council in Glen Rock, Bergen County, where she served a three-year term.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at New Jersey Working Families Party at a time when protecting and strengthening our democracy is more vital than ever,” Arati said. “Together, we will keep fighting to move progressive policies forward in New Jersey.”
Justin Goldsman will be New Jersey Political Director, building and executing electoral campaigns, localizing some national directives, assisting with coalition work and legislative work, and managing key in-state political relationships.
Justin comes to the Working Families Party from Gov. Phil Murphy’s successful re-election campaign, for which he served as a senior organizer for various coalitions, including labor unions, women, LGBTQIA+, progressive, and grassroots groups. Prior to that he worked as a political coordinator for the Communications Workers of America NJ, and has worked alongside numerous NJ grassroots and progressive organizations in the pursuit of justice, democracy, and equality.
“The Working Families Party has built a strong team in New Jersey that I’m happy to be part of,” Justin said. “I’m eager to get to work and to continue growing our progressive presence here.”
Yasmeen Pauling, who has served as a Digital Organizer for the New Jersey Working Families Party for the last year, will now take on a new role as New Jersey Organizer.
Yasmeen has been with NJ WFP since 2020, first working as a Fellow & Apprentice Organizer where she oversaw the group’s fellows and trained others for phone banking and other tasks. As digital organizer, she handled social media accounts, created content and conducted outreach among statewide groups.
“I am glad to be taking on more responsibilities for the Working Families Party, which serves such an important role in New Jersey,” Yasmeen said.
New Jersey Working Families Director Sue Altman welcomed her new team members.
“These new hires will give NJWFP the capacity to keep fighting the good fight – this time on multiple fronts at once,” she said. “It’s far past time for structural change in New Jersey and I am humbled to be in the trenches with such a qualified, smart, resourceful and experienced team. Watch out, Jersey!”