Gov. Phil Murphy will appear at a campaign kickoff on Monday morning for Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden), a move that likely boxes out any attempt by progressives to challenge him in the Democratic primary.
Murphy has bifurcated relationships with the South Jersey congressman and his brother, Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, in the past. He endorsed Donald Norcross for re-election to the House almost a year before the 2020 primary, even though he was feuding with George Norcross.
One progressive, music teacher Mario DeSantis, is the only announced candidate against Norcross in the upcoming June primary. DeSantis had launched a challenge to Senate President Steve Sweeney in the 2021 primary, but his campaign fizzled a day later when he couldn’t get enough signatures on his nominating petition to earn a spot on the ballot.
Norcross, a former South Jersey AFL-CIO president who served as a state senator and assemblyman, won a 2014 special election for Congress in New Jersey’s 1st district following the resignation of Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Bellmawr).
The Norcross kickoff is set for 10 AM at Camden County College in Blackwood.
The front runner for the Republican nomination to take on Norcross is his 2020 opponent, former Collingswood school board member Claire Gustafson. She has already won endorsements from the GOP county chairs in Camden and Gloucester counties, and from State Sen. Edward Durr (R-Swedesboro).
Gustafson applauded Murphy’s appearance.
“The Governor coming to show his support to Donald Norcross is an excellent way to remind voters in South Jersey that Donald Norcross supports all of the Governor’s tyrannical mandates.” she said. “Unlike Governor Murphy and Congressman Norcross South Jersey voters believe in medical freedom, not mandates. We believe all businesses are essential, not just the businesses chosen by King Murphy.”
Newcomer Elaine DeAngelo, a former bank loan officer from Sewell, is also seeking the GOP nod.
This story was updated on February 14 at 2:22 PM.