Jessica Ramirez and John Allen will run for two Assembly seats in 2023 on a ticket headed by current Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), the New Jersey Globe has learned. Ramirez and Allen, both attorneys, will have the support of the Hudson County Democratic organization for the 32nd legislative district.
Mukherji, as assemblyman since 2014, is running for the State Senate after State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) was drawn into a different district on the state’s new legislative map.
His campaign has been public for nearly a year, but the race for the district’s Assembly seats – one held by Mukherji, the other held by Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hoboken) – was conducted behind closed doors, and the ultimate decision rested with the district’s two mayors. (Hudson County mayors generally get discretion over Assembly candidates, and the new 32nd district is entirely composed of two towns: Hoboken and part of Jersey City.)
Ramirez is Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s choice, while Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla chose Allen, his former chief of staff, over Chaparro; both decisions were made in consultation with Mukherji. Chaparro had originally been chosen by former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and after five years as mayor, Bhalla is now deciding to replace her with his own candidate.
It’s not yet known if Chaparro will attempt to contest her ouster, or whether any other candidates will run off-the-line. The Hudson County Democratic line is one of the most powerful in the state, though it’s arguably weakest in the diverse and gentrifying parts of Jersey City covered by the 32nd district.
The Puerto Rican-born Ramirez is a partner at D’Arcy Johnson Day, where she specializes in “serious personal injury, sexual abuse, medical device and product liability litigation,” according to her biography. She also served on the state Ethics Committee and as Eminent Domain Commissioner.
Her selection means that Hudson County will likely send at least one Latina to the legislature in 2023 – a major concern cited by both Chaparro and neighboring Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-West New York), who is also losing her seat in 2023 as part of the broader countywide rejiggering.
Allen, meanwhile, has a long history in Hoboken politics, working under both Bhalla and Zimmer. He’s now counsel at Schenck Price and also serves on a number of public bodies, including the Hudson County Planning Board and the Garden State Joint Insurance Fund.
Republicans may run their own slate, but they won’t be much of a factor in one of the state’s most safely Democratic districts. Gov. Phil Murphy won the 32nd district by 54 points last year, and Republicans haven’t won any district touching Jersey City since 1985.