The New Jersey Democratic State Committee elected Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones to lead the state party. He’ll replace Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie, who has helmed New Jersey’s Democratic Party since 2013.
“It is truly an honor to be elected to lead the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and I pledge to use this tremendous opportunity to continue growing our party, organizing our voters and helping deliver positive change in our great state,” Jones said. “I would like to thank the members of the Democratic State Committee for their unanimous support as well as Governor Murphy and Democratic leaders for their confidence in me.”
Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer was re-elected as the party’s vice-chair. The state committee picked Middlesex County Commissioner Claribel Azcona Barber as its secretary.
Medinah Muhammed, who is Assemblywoman Britney Timberlake’s chief of staff, was selected to be the organization’s treasurer.
The newly-elected members of the executive committee ran unopposed and were elected by voice vote. They will serve until January 2022.
The changeover in party leadership stems from a deal reached between Currie and Jones in December 2019. That agreement gave Currie 18 more months as the state chairman and divided appointments to the Legislative Redistricting Commission, which are made by the state chair, between Democratic factions in Essex, Middlesex and Camden Counties, which backed Jones’ bid for the chairmanship.
That contest pitted factions allied with South Jersey Democrats and Gov. Phil Murphy, a close ally of Currie’s, against each other. Thursday’s leadership changeover quashed those already-buried hatchets.
Murphy, who campaign for Currie to keep his hold of the party in 2019, thanked the outgoing chairman for his service and pledged to support the newcomers.
He swore in the Democratic State Committee’s members and the executive Committee.
Currie, who served as a mentor for Jones, met the party’s state party’s new leader with a smile.
“I am honored to have been your chair,” he said, adding he would remain active in politics and available to his successor.
His tenure saw Democrats regain the governorship, and Currie was among Murphy’s first backers.
For Jones, the moment was an emotional one and the culmination of a long political quest. But he’s looking to build his own mold instead of reveling in the victories of years’ past.
“I’ll never be able to fill those shoes,” he said. “I’m going to go out and buy my own.”