Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick called several GOP county chairs today to let them know that he is strongly considering a bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination next year.
“I’m very, very interested in running in 2021 and I simply want them to know that,” Bramnick told the New Jersey Globe during a brief phone interview on Friday evening.
Bramnick’s calls come in advance of former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli’s formal announcement of his candidacy that is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
The top Assembly Republican told the Globe that he doesn’t have a timeline for making a final decision about a statewide bid.
“I’m simply indicating to chairs that I’m interested in running,” Bramnick said. I’m not asking for support. I want chairs to know that I’m interested.”
Some Republicans view Bramnick, a moderate who has criticized President Donald Trump in the past, as a potentially strong statewide candidate for a general election.
Bramnick, 66, faced the toughest campaign of his political career last year when state Democrats targeted him for defeat in a district that had become increasingly less Republican. He defeated former New Providence Democratic Municipal Chair Stacey Gunderman by a solid 3,431 vote margin.
Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt and Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden are also mulling gubernatorial runs. Steinhardt and Golden are also GOP county chairs.
Gov. Phil Murphy appears to have a lock on the Democratic nomination despite deep divides within his party.
Earlier this week, Murphy received a strong endorsement from Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who has been aligned with the faction of the Democratic party that has been most critical of him.
New Jersey is on the verge of having one million more registered Democrats than Republicans, but the state has a history of electing GOP governors.
Democrats have not re-elected a governor since 1977 and since that time three Republican governors have won re-election.