Home>Campaigns>Fulop scores first labor endorsement of ’25 governor’s race

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop speaks at an announcement regarding the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail West Side Avenue Branch expansion on March 3, 2020. (Photo: Office of the Governor/Edwin J. Torres).

Fulop scores first labor endorsement of ’25 governor’s race

Amalgamated Transit Union announces support of Fulop two years before Democratic primary, signaling importantace of public transportation issues in upcoming campaign

By David Wildstein, May 11 2023 9:00 am

Citing his record on enhancing public transportation in New Jersey, the nation’s largest public transit workers union has endorsed Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa said his union chose to take sides in a race still over two years away because Fulop “sees transit as a basic human right.”

“We are riding with Fulop,” Costa stated.  “ATU is proud to be the first union to endorse Steve, and hopefully, others will follow right behind us.  They should.  It’s a no-brainer.”

The endorsement signals Fulop’s intent to make public transportation a priority as a gubernatorial candidate, giving him an issue that appeals to progressive Democratic primary voters in urban areas and in suburban train station towns that have become a significant part of the state’s Democratic base.

“Modernizing New Jersey’s public transit system is one of our state’s greatest needs,” Fulop said.  “I believe strongly that we need to think big on public transit to build a reimagined system that efficiently moves people to major job centers, takes cars off the roads to reduce traffic and fight climate change, and supports equitable economic development.”

Fulop emphasized his record of allaying overcrowded buses, taking cars off the road, and addressing transit deserts.

“If Steve Fulop can bring what he’s done in Jersey City to Trenton, we will all be better off,” said Costa, a Colts Neck resident who started working for NJ Transit.  “We will be getting out in full force to elect Fulop.  We will be registering our members to vote, encouraging them to vote, engaging riders, and taking part in other actions in the all-out effort to elect Steve Fulop as Governor of New Jersey.”

Orlando Riley, who chairs the 8,000-member ATU State Council, pointed to Fulop’s support of working-class residents of Jersey City.

“From being among the first in the state to begin paying city employees a minimum of $15 an hour to expanding paid family sick leave, Mayor Fulop and his team have demonstrated that they stand by the core values of ATU,” said Riley.

The three-term mayor of the state’s second-largest city, Fulop sided with progressive activists in Jersey City and Hoboken last year in opposing a $10 billion plan to widen an eight-mile stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike between Exits 14A and 14C.  New Jersey’s building trades unions strongly supported the expansion, and Gov. Phil Murphy has endorsed it.

The New Jersey State Building Trades Council said last September that they would back Senate President Steve Sweeney if he decides to formally enter the race.  Sweeney told the state plumbers union convention in late 2021 that he planned to run.

Fulop has maintained close ties with the transit workers union, including Raymond Greaves, a former Bayonne councilman who preceded Riley as head of the New Jersey ATU and now serves as an international vice president.

The ATU backed Phil Murphy a few weeks before the 2017 gubernatorial primary and endorsed Fulop for re-election as mayor in 2021.

Fulop has maintained a steady flow of endorsements since announcing his bid for governor on April 11, winning the backing of the mayors of Atlantic City, Clinton, Hillside, and Westfield.

Last week, an influential Democrat closely tied to all three sections of the statehouse, complained that Fulop’s early activity is diverting attention from the 2023 campaign.

But Fulop refused to be frightened by someone who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

“If someone wants to criticize me or how I’m running my campaign, they should put their name to it and not hide behind anonymous quotes,” he said.

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