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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy declines to endorse for Weinberg’s seat

‘I’m a big fan of both of them,’ governor says of Johnson, Vainieri Huttle

By Nikita Biryukov, January 22 2021 2:46 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy is steering clear of an intra-party contest to replace Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s seat.

On Friday, the governor declined to endorse either of Weinberg’s district mates for the seat, saying he

“No endorsement,” he said. “I appreciate your asking, but I’m a big fan of both of them, and we work very closely with each.”

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) announced for Weinberg’s seat after she said she would not seek re-election after spending nearly 30 years as a state legislator.

In the time since, the two Democrats, without attacking one another, have engaged in an endorsement war in an attempt to secure the Bergen County line.

Johnson in 2016 became one of the first legislators to endorse Murphy for governor. At the time, Murphy was still running as an outsider, and he wasn’t in first place.

“I’ll never forget that,” Murphy said Friday, but the gratitude wasn’t enough to push him into an endorsement.

Still, Murphy spoke highly of both members.

“I don’t know if anybody else is going to get into that race or not, but if you’re looking for strong democracy, one of the definitions is do you have a good set of choices, and you couldn’t have better choices, and again there may well be others who get involved in that,” Murphy said.

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