Home>Campaigns>Fulop wins endorsements from mayors of Clinton, Hillside and Westfield

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

Fulop wins endorsements from mayors of Clinton, Hillside and Westfield

First candidate to enter race for ’25 Democratic gubernatorial nomination has endorsements from five N.J. local elected officials

By David Wildstein, May 04 2023 9:40 am

Three more New Jersey mayors are backing Steve Fulop for Governor and will take on leadership roles in his bid for the Democratic nomination in a primary that is still two years away.

Janice Kovach of Clinton, Shelley Brindle of Westfield, and Dahlia Vertreese of Hillside will help Fulop shape his campaign platform and use their independent relationships to build more support for the three-term Jersey City mayor’s bid to succeed New Jersey’s term-limited governor, Phil Murphy.

“Democrats in New Jersey want to hear more from local political leaders about how we can address the challenges facing our communities and improve their quality of life,” said Fulop, who formally announced his candidacy on April 11.  “That’s why our campaign will present the most expansive and detailed policy agenda ever seen in a gubernatorial primary.”

The new Fulop endorsements also represent lost opportunities for other potential candidates.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has now watched Fulop score endorsements from two Black mayors, Vertreese and Marty Small of Atlantic City; two women mayors are now publicly for Fulop and not Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair); and two Union County mayors are backing Fulop and not Senate President Nicholas Scutari, the Union County Democratic chairman, and a possible 2025 contender.   Another elected official working for Fulop, Closter Councilwoman Jannie Chung, lives in the congressional district of Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).

The popular Kovach is a big catch for Fulop; as a former New Jersey League of Municipalities president and Democratic State Committee secretary, she has strong contacts throughout the state.  She won a third term in 2019 with 68% of the vote in a small Hunterdon County municipality that has become a premier swing town in western New Jersey.

“Mayors serve on the front lines of our communities — we know what kind of progress is possible with additional resources and innovative policy solutions from state government, and that’s exactly what Steven Fulop will pursue as our next Governor,” Kovach said. “I can’t wait to get to work with Mayor Fulop and his team putting together an agenda for progress that will benefit communities all over our state.”

Brindle, a former HBO executive and political newcomer who ousted a Republican mayor in 2017, potentially helps Fulop get Democratic primary votes in Westfield, which is becoming a turnout mill for Democrats.

In last year’s general election, Westfield cast about 650 more votes for the Democratic congressional candidate than Elizabeth, which has more than three times as many registered Democrats.   Democrats have an 8-1 majority on the township council.

“I am excited to partner with Mayor Fulop to create a substance-driven campaign that will confront the issues that Westfield and other municipalities throughout our state continue to face, particularly those related to transportation, affordability, and responsible economic development,” Brindle stated.  “We have an opportunity to be on the ground floor developing the policy agenda that could shape the future of our state.”

Brindle said that Fulop’s success as mayor of the state’s second-largest city gives him “a practical understanding of how decisions in Trenton impact the day-to-day lives of taxpayers, and that makes him uniquely well-equipped to serve New Jersey.”

Vertreese’s endorsement of Fulop is not a surprise.  When she sought re-election to a second term in 2021, a Fulop-allied super PAC, Coalition for Progress, spent money to help a slate of candidates backed by Vertreese win a majority of council seats in a December runoff election.

“Mayor Fulop is not just someone I admire as a fellow mayor and a dedicated leader and public servant, I’m proud to call him a true friend who has supported me throughout my political career,” said Vertreese, a labor organizer for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68.  “Our state needs a bold yet pragmatic vision for how we can help struggling communities and families succeed, and I know that Steven Fulop is the best candidate to make that a reality.”

In his statement, Fulop said he intends to launch “substantive policy initiatives” later this summer.

“I believe the voters reward campaigns that are thoughtful around public policy and present more than just the same basic platitudes they are used to seeing,” he said.  “Our plan is to showcase a strong record in Jersey City and a detailed plan for all of New Jersey.”

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