In what might be the strongest indicator yet that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial run in 2025, a super PAC allied with him raised $1.4 million on Tuesday evening.
The Coalition for Progress Super PAC now has over $5 million cash-on-hand with plans to help Democratic candidates across the state this year.
Fulop was the headliner at the event and spoke of his views on economic development and expanding the middle class.
“The success of this event shows that Coalition for Progress is on a path to establish itself as one of the state’s best resourced, most active and most effective political committees,” said Drew Nussbaum, the super PAC chairman. “We look forward to using these resources to help elect Democrats throughout the state who share our vision for progress.”
The super PAC begin to flex last December, spending about $25,000 to help Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese’s council slate win a runoff election.
Fulop had been viewed as a leading candidate for governor in 2017 and had received some commitments for organization lines in North and Central Jersey, but he dropped out about 10 months before the primary and endorsed Phil Murphy, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany making his first run for public office.
Murphy is term-limited, leaving a wide-open field to replace him as the Democratic standard bearer in 2025.
Former Senate President Steve Sweeney announced in December that he planned to run for governor despite his defeat for re-election to his own State Senate seat a month earlier. Sweeney has been planning a statewide run for several years – he also sought support in 2017 – and is expected to launch a non-profit group that could serve as his vessel to stay in touch with Democratic primary voters.
Sweeney had made several trips to Hudson last year, including a private meeting with legislators in June.
Other potential candidates are deftly avoiding questions about their interest in a gubernatorial run.
In an appearance on the New Jersey Globe Power Hour on Talk Radio 77 WABC on Saturday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) wouldn’t talk about her own political ambitions.
“My focus right now is on 2022 and serving the 11th district of New Jersey,” Sherrill said.
Other possible Democratic candidates for governor include: Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver; Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin; Senate President Nicholas Scutari; Newark Mayor Ras Baraka; Senate Education Committee Chairman Vin Gopal; Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson); and Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, the president of the New Jersey Education Association.
Democratic power broker George Norcross flew to North Jersey recently to meet with Spiller in a bid to forge a relationship with the head of the state’s largest public employee union.
Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who came within three points of defeating Murphy last year, announced his intention to run in 2025 during his concession speech.
While Ciattarelli s the front-runner, his nomination is hardly a lock Former Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt, State Sen. Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland) and New Jersey 101.5 radio host Bill Spadea are being mentioned as prospective candidates.
Fulop was re-elected to a third term as mayor with nearly 68% of the vote last November and held on to his majority on the city council.
The last time a political party won three consecutive gubernatorial elections was in 1961, when former Superior Court Judge Richard J. Hughes won an upset victory to succeed Democratic Gov. Robert Meyner.
Hughes was trailing the GOP nominee, former U.S. Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell, who had served in President Eisenhower’s cabinet. But Mitchell broke his leg in September and was off the campaign trail for several weeks at a time when retail campaigning was essential.