Home>Campaigns>Early start of ’25 N.J. Governor’s race irks some key Democrats

The governor's outer office, featuring portraits of former Govs. Kean, Florio, and Whitman.

Early start of ’25 N.J. Governor’s race irks some key Democrats

One insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity, slaps Fulop backers for moving too quickly; Fulop refutes criticism

By David Wildstein, May 04 2023 4:35 pm

With Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop already picking up support from four Democratic mayors two years before the 2025 gubernatorial primary, top party leaders and elected officials want to slow down the hunt for endorsements.

Fulop, the lone announced candidate to succeed term-limited Gov. Phil Murphy, has begun to roll out his campaign team at a point where no other prospective candidates are positioned to mirror his strategy.    Some elected officials and party leaders who are not necessarily viewing Fulop as Murphy’s successor, want to make sure the focus for Democrats remains on this year’s legislative midterm elections.

“This is the worst tendency of the Democratic Party when we take our eye off of the important work in front of us because of a shiny object years from now,” said one influential Democratic insider with close ties to all three sections of the statehouse”

The statement, which was not made for attribution, came shortly after Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle, Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach, and Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese announced they were supporting Fulop for governor.   Fulop had previously won the endorsement of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr.

“These mayors should be far more focused on ensuring the current Governor and Legislative leadership succeed for New Jerseyans now rather than trying to set themselves up for plum appointments by endorsing far too early in a Gubernatorial race that shouldn’t have even started yet,” the Democratic insider said.  “We set ourselves up for failure when we take elections for granted, and that’s what these mayors are doing.”

Fulop pushed back on the criticism from an individual who refused to release their name.

“I think it’s incredibly cowardly for someone to anonymously attack four of our state’s leading mayors,” he said.  “We all make decisions that reflect our political and policy values, and to insinuate that any of them are not committed to protecting and expanding our Democratic majority in Trenton is just silly.”

Instead, Fulop bemoaned the political insider who criticized him.

“If someone wants to criticize me or how I’m running my campaign, they should put their name to it and not hide behind anonymous quotes,” the three-term mayor told the New Jersey Globe.”

He also doubled down on his own support for the mayors who sticking out their own necks with early endorsement before the field has even begun to take shape.

“Our state could use more Democrats like Mayor Brindle, Mayor Kovach, Mayor Vertreese, and Mayor Small who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in, and one of the reasons why I’m running for Governor is to elevate leaders like them who have the courage of their convictions,” stated Fulop.

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