Democratic county committee members across New Jersey — and some Republicans — began receiving a postcard last week that possibly marks the start of the 2025 gubernatorial campaign, although it comes from a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy group launched in October by New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller.
The group, Protecting our Democracy, appears to be gathering email addresses through an online survey that asks respondents to identify which issues they believed to be important in the 2022 midterms: protecting democracy, inflation, criminal justice reform, abortion rights, voting rights, climate change, and education.
Spiller, the mayor of Montclair and the head of the state’s largest public employee union, is viewed a potential candidate for governor.
“Protecting our democracy doesn’t end on Election Day. We’ll continue to organize to safeguard our personal freedoms, preserve voting rights and create an economy that works for everyone,” Spiller is quoted as saying on the mailer, which includes his photograph. “People all over New Jersey have already joined Protecting Our Democracy and I hope you will too.”
The non-profit route has become a standard vehicle for potential statewide candidates. Phil Murphy, then the relatively unknown former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, launched New Way for New Jersey in 2015 as he plotted a course to run for governor two years later. Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican who nearly unseated Murphy last year, formed Mainstream Majority in June. The ex-assemblyman has already announced that he plans to run for governor again in 2025.
It’s still not clear if Spiller will seek re-election to a second term as mayor. His term is up next year.
Spiller is one of two Montclair residents on the short-list of possible Democratic candidates for Governor in 2025, along with Rep. Mikie Sherrill.