Home>Campaigns>Garden State Equality endorses Democratic House candidates, 33 aspirants for county and local office

Garden State Equality's office in Asbury Park. (Photo: Christian Fuscarino).

Garden State Equality endorses Democratic House candidates, 33 aspirants for county and local office

 LGBTQ+ group backs an independent challenging Republican Chris Smith in NJ-4

By David Wildstein, September 30 2022 6:45 am

Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest  LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has endorsed Democratic candidates for Congress in 11 districts, including incumbents Tom Malinowski, Andy Kim, Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill and Robert J. Menendez, who is seeking an open seat in the 8th district.

But in the strongly Republican 4th district, where Republican Christopher Smith is seeking a 22nd term, Garden State Equality passed over Democrat Matt Jenkins and endorsed Pam Daniels, an openly transgender woman from Brick who is running as an independent.  Daniels narrowly edged out Jenkins, the group said.

Daniels, an author and LGBTQ+ activist, worked on Gov. Christine Todd Whitman’s staff from 1994 to 1997 and as the news director at NJ 101.5 while Jim Florio was governor.  She was the first transgender person to serve on the board of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women.

The group is also backing Democrat Tim Alexander, who is taking on Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the 2nd district.

“Each election cycle, we endorse candidates based on their support for our mission of lifting up the diverse voices of LGBTQ+ communities to advance the movement for equality in New Jersey,” said Jeannine Frisby LaRue, the chair of the Garden State Equality Action Fund. “On behalf of our 150,000 members across the state, we are proud to support these candidates in the 2022 elections and look forward to working with them.”

Five other House Democrats — Donald Norcross, Frank Pallone, Jr., Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald Payne, Jr., and Bonnie Watson Coleman — also won endorsements.

While most countywide endorsements went to Democrats, Garden State Equality is also supporting Republican Tom Arnone for re-election as a Monmouth county commissioner.  Jennifer Williams, a transgender woman and the Trenton GOP municipal chair, received the group’s endorsement  in her non-partisan race for Trenton City Council. 

In closely-watched municipal races, endorsements went to incumbents Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, Flemington Mayor Betsy Driver, Evesham Mayor Jaclyn Veasy, Somerset County Clerk Steven Peter, and Somerset County Commissioner Melonie Marano.  No endorsement was made in the Somerset sheriff’s race. 

No endorsements were made in competitive countywide races in Gloucester and Cumberland counties, where control is at stake, or in Burlington, where there are hotly-contested races for sheriff and county commissioner.  No endorsements were made in special elections for State Senate in the 28th district and Assembly in the 12th, although neither are competitive.  

Garden State Equality endorsements also went to two-term Bergen County Executive James Tedesco and three incumbent county commissioners — Mary Amoroso, Germaine Ortiz and Tom Sullivan.  Lawrence Councilwoman Cathleen Lewis was endorsed for Mercer county commissioner, along with incumbent Nina Melker.  In Union County, Garden State Equality is backing incumbent Rebecca Williams, but made no endorsement for the other two seats.  Support also went to Democratic county commissioner candidates facing uphill campaigns in Cape May, Hunterdon , Morris and Sussex counties, and to Democrat Kristal Dias for the other Monmouth seat.

“Our endorsement process involves carefully considering what candidates will do to help marginalized communities across our state, particularly in Garden State Equality’s program focus areas of healthcare and education,” said Garden State Equality Action Fund executive director Christian Fuscarino. “We endorse elected leaders who share our commitment to ensuring that members of New Jersey’s LGBTQ+ community experience both legal and lived equality.”

Additional municipal endorsements went to candidates for council seats: Angela Ahbez-Anderson in Asbury Park; J. Randy Bishop in Howell; Heather Cooper, and Patricia Hansen in Evesham; Teska T. Frisby, Crystal Feliciano and Kadja Manuel in Trenton; John Kashwick in Clinton Township Steven McIntyre in North Plainfield; Tony Parker in Flemington; and Steven Russell in Matawan.

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