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Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Atlantic City mayor endorses Fulop for governor

Marty Small, Sr. will serve as co-chair of Fulop’s statewide campaign

By David Wildstein, April 24 2023 9:12 am

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Jr. has endorsed Steve Fulop for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2025 and will serve as campaign co-chairman,

“Mayors have a unique understanding of the skills necessary to lead, and they have executive experience that qualifies them to be effective in the office of governor, Small said.  “I’m proud to call Steve Fulop a friend, and his accomplishments in Jersey City as a Mayor speak for themself.  He is a transformational leader who will work tirelessly to help our state reach new heights.”

Small becomes the first high-profile Black Democratic officeholder to sign up in support of Fulop and will play a key role in organizing South Jersey for Fulop, the Jersey City mayor who announced this month that he would run for governor in two years when incumbent Phil Murphy is term-limited.

With Small on his side, Fulop could potentially win the Atlantic County Democratic organization and reduce the impact of a South Jersey block in the 2025 gubernatorial campaign.  While Atlantic City does not dictate the outcome of the county Democratic convention, it does represent the largest block of votes.

Of the seven South Jersey counties, Atlantic makes up about 13% of all registered South Jersey Democrats.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. (Photo: Marty Small, Sr.)

Small’s endorsement of Fulop could lessen the political base of a South Jersey contender, former Senate President Steve Sweeney.  Jim Florio was the last South Jersey Democrat to win a statewide Democratic primary, and that was in 1989.   Without Atlantic, the South Jersey Democratic coalition drops from 22% of the state’s primary votes to 19%.

Atlantic County Democrats eschewed the choice of the party machinery in 2020 to pick a congressional candidate against Amy Kennedy after Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched parties and sought re-election as a Republican.  She won the Atlantic County Democratic convention and swept off-the-line primary wins in the rest of South Jersey, including Camden County.

Small’s decision to endorse Fulop also means one less Black, urban mayor that will be available to back Newark Mayor Ras Baraka if he decided to run for governor in 2025.

“After decades of Atlantic City struggling, Mayor Small is moving the community forward with major redevelopment initiatives, lower property taxes, and improved services, and I could not be more proud to have him join our campaign,” Fulop stated.

Small is enormously popular in Atlantic City.  He won a special election for mayor in 2020 with 64%, took 69% in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, and then won a full four-year term in the general election by 33% percentage points against Republican Tom Forkin in a six-candidate race.

“Mayors are on the front lines of government and have a tremendous responsibility to deliver what their constituents need every day — there’s no more difficult or rewarding job in politics,” said Fulop.  “As Governor, I will bring that experience as a Mayor to the State House and enact policies that support local government and help it deliver the progress that residents deserve.”

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