Click play for audio version of this story
In the first real movement in the race for Democratic State Chair since April, a group of four women Democratic county chairs agreed in a private meeting this week that they are open to a change of leadership at the state party.
The four – Amy DeGise of Hudson, Janice Mironov of Mercer, Arlene Quiñones Perez of Hunterdon and Katie Rotondi of Sussex – reportedly agreed to consider new options beyond the re-election of incumbent John Currie, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
That doesn’t mean they are backing Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones, but it also doesn’t mean they are necessarily with Currie. And it also doesn’t mean the agreement was unanimous.
“While I have great respect for my fellow chairs, I am supporting Governor Murphy’s choice to lead our state party and that choice is John Currie,” DeGise said. “I endorsed Chairman Currie months ago because I believe he is the right leader for our party and that has not changed.”
The meeting took place at the Democratic State Committee Conference in Atlantic City this week.
DeGise and Quinones Perez had endorsed Currie last December and Rotondi announced her support of him in July. Mironov has not endorsed.
Currie’s running mate, Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer, was not part of the meeting. Schaffer became Vice Chair in April following the resignation of Lizette Delgado-Polanco.
Jones announced in December that he would be willing to run if the support was there. He has not formally endorsed his candidacy.
The race has been stuck for the last five months, with no candidate emerging with enough public commitments to out them over the 50% mark.
The magic number to win a race for New Jersey Democratic State Chairman is 49 ½ votes.
The Democratic State Committee has a total of 98 votes, although some state committee members are elected with half-votes. Democrats allocate state committee seats by population, while Republicans give a flat two seats to each of the state’s 21 counties.
Gov. Phil Murphy has endorsed Currie, along with county chairs in Morris and Warren.
Currie also has Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp, although some sources insist that Earp is fungible.
He also had the support of Bergen County Democratic Chairman Louis Stellato, who resigned this summer to become a commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Stellato’s successor, Paul Juliano, has not yet taken sides in the state chairman race.
Jones has the backing of county chairs in Middlesex, Monmouth, Union and the seven South Jersey counties.
Currie’s term expires in January. No date has been set for the election, although there have been hints of a December vote.
This story was updated at 1:11 PM with comment from DeGise.