Mitchelle Drulis, Rep. Tom Malinowski’s popular and connected district director for the last four years, has emerged as the leading Democratic candidate for open State Assembly in the 16th district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
She would replace Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery), who decided two weeks ago that she would not seek re-election to a second term.
The 49-year-old Drulis has been a fixture in New Jersey politics for more than 20 years as chief of staff to Assembly Labor Committee Chairman Joseph Egan (D-New Brunswick) and political director of Malinowski’s 2018 congressional campaign against five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township). As a Rutgers student in 2000, she won a competition organized by Al Gore’s presidential campaign to send a group of college students to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles; Rutgers edged out Harvard in that contest.
“Mitchelle personally helped thousands of people – veterans, seniors, small business owners, homeowners hurt by flooding — as my district director,” Malinowski said in a tweet. “She is principled, tireless, and will be an amazing assemblywoman.”
Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer has been pushing Patricia Taylor Todd, a New Jersey Civil Service Commission lawyer appointed to the Montgomery Township Committee last November.
A Raritan Township resident, Drulis has the inside track on organization lines in Middlesex, Hunterdon, and Mercer to run on a ticket with State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) in a politically competitive district that includes Princeton, South Brunswick and parts of Hunterdon and Somerset counties.
If she wins the general election, Drulis will become the first Democratic lawmaker from Hunterdon County since Barbara McConnell served from 1978 to 1982 and the first woman from Hunterdon since Zwicker ousted Republican Donna Simon by 78 votes in 2015.
This story was updated at 1:25 PM with comment from Malinowski.