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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. (Photo: Steven Fulop).

Fulop announces bid for Governor in 2025

Jersey City Mayor becomes first official candidate to succeed Murphy

By David Wildstein, April 11 2023 9:03 am

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop will seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025, becoming the first candidate to formally enter the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Phil Murphy.

While it’s unusual for a candidate to make an official declaration this early – the Democratic gubernatorial primary is 784 days away – it’s also been no secret that Fulop intended to be a candidate.  This allows the two-term mayor of the state’s second-largest city to obviate cat-and-mouse games and seek votes.

“I’m launching my campaign now because I believe that New Jersey can become an even better place for all of us, and I will be sharing my vision over the coming months for how we will make it happen,” Fulop said.  ” I’ve never backed down from a fight before, and I’m ready to work hard for all the people of our great state to deliver the results New Jersey deserves.”

Fulop’s launch video includes testimonials from Marine Corps veterans and his constituents in Jersey City.

“I believe leadership is about standing up for what you believe in, even when it’s not popular, and then fighting successfully to get it done,” he said.  “Now I’m running for governor to bring that same energy and fight to Trenton.”

The move gives Fulop a head start against several potential rivals, including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, New Jersey Education Association President and Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, and former Senate President Steve Sweeney.    Sweeney made a public announcement at a state plumbers convention, but his team later walked that back.

But his early entrance also means that his spending cap will kick in now unless he eschews public financing in the primary election.  So far, the Fulop team has indicated that they plan to take matching funds, which would cap him at $7.3 million – or more, depending on what ceiling the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission sets – for the primary.

“In the coming months, I’ll be offering detailed proposals for how we can make a great state even better for every family,” said Fulop. “I hope you’re with me because we have a lot to do.”

On the Republican side, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Hillsborough) said he planned to run in 2025 when he conceded his narrow loss to Murphy in 2021, but that does not constitute an official announcement.  Conservative radio personality Bill Spadea is also considered a likely candidate, although he has not formally entered the race.

Earlier this year, Fulop announced that he would not seek election as mayor, which telegraphed his plan to run for governor.  Last year, several key Democrats in his home county, including State Sen./North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Hudson County Democratic Chairman Anthony Vainieri, publicly endorsed his candidacy.

A superPAC allied with Fulop has over $6 million in the bank.

“From my time serving as a U.S. Marine to leading Jersey City as Mayor, my career has always been guided by a strong desire to take on difficult challenges and find solutions that help improve people’s lives, and now I’m running for Governor to bring those same values to Trenton,” Fulop said.

Fulop, 46, grew up in Edison, joined Goldman Sachs after college, and the U.S. Marine Corps after 9/11.  He challenged Rep. Bob Menendez in the 2004 Democratic primary for Congress, won a Jersey City council seat in 2005, and unseated three-term incumbent Jerramiah Healy in 2013.

He made moves to run for governor in 2017 and was widely viewed as the front-runner.  But he announced in September 2016 that he would not run and endorsed Murphy, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany who was in third place at the time.

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