In a show of force, 19 mayors from New Jersey’s urban Democratic strongholds, joined by Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Senator Cory Booker, joined together in support of Democrat Bob Menendez for re-election to the United States Senate.
Menendez’s hopes for another term could hinge on strong voter turnout in urban New Jersey, where Democrats often win by lopsided margins. Turnout in the cities will play a pivotal role in deciding the winner of Tuesday’s election between Menendez and Republican Bob Hugin.
These are also areas of New Jersey unaffected by competitive House races in the mostly-suburban 3rd, 7th and 11th districts and need a hands-on push by the local organizations. This has been a focus of the Menendez campaign for months.
Among the municipal executives in attendance were some of the state’s rising stars, including Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Hector Lora of Passaic, as well as experienced local politicians like Ras Baraka of Newark, Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth James Cahill of New Brunswick, Alberto Santos of Kearny, Adrian Mapp of Plainfield and Reed Gusciora of Trenton, among others.
“I trekked up here 80 miles this morning to be standing here representing South Jersey to let you know that we are hip-to-hip tomorrow and make sure, whether it rains or it doesn’t, every single vote comes out for our column too but our Democratic ticket supporting none other than Bob Menendez and all our Democrats,” Camden Mayor Frank Moran said.
The fear among some in Democratic strongholds like Hudson County is that voters might stay home because of a lack of competitive races. Preventing that possibility falls to local officials like the mayors at Monday’s event, though superstars like Murphy and Booker, who joined Menendez at Monday morning’s event, share some of that burden.
Having long served as part of New Jersey’s congressional delegation in both the House and the Senate, Menendez has crossed paths with many of the urban mayors, and a number of them had praise for their own slices of the senator’s record.
“Whether we needed help with more police in the 1990’s, he was there to support us. Whether we needed a fire grant in the last couple of years, he was there,” Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. “When it came time to pass the Zadroga Act, which helped our police and firemen who fought at the World Trade Center in order to stem off the health problems they have, it was Senator Menendez who made sure that bill got through the Congress.”