Gov. Phil Murphy wasn’t willing to say Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano’s endorsement of John Currie would end the contest for Democratic state chair.
“I’d say I’m still optimistic, and I look forward to — I’m not sure exactly when —this coming together and everybody around the state recognizing the job that he’s done and that he has earned another term as the state chair,” Murphy said. “He’s my guy.”
Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones is expected to challenge Currie for the state party’s leadership post, and while no date has been set, that election is expected to take place sometime in December, though it could come earlier.
Because the Democratic State Committee apportions seats to counties based on population, Bergen County’s backing bears particular weight.
All 10 of Bergen’s Democratic State Committee members are backing Currie. That’s fully a fifth of the 49.5 votes a candidate needs to win the state chairmanship.
Still, most of the state’s Democratic county chairs picked sides shortly after the New Jersey Globe reported his interest in the position last December.
The intra-party feud has been largely on hold as the state’s Assembly elections come to a head, and Juliano’s endorsement of is the first real movement seen in the contest for months, though four Democratic county chairwomen met to consider an alternative candidate for state chair in late September.
Hudson County Chairwoman Amy DeGise, who was among the first to endorse Currie, scuttled those machinations by refusing to pull her support.
Some chairs have remained uncommitted in the race, at least publicly. Most notable among those are Ocean County Chairman Wyatt Earp and Mercer County Chairwoman Janice Mironov, who told the New Jersey Globe she remains undecided as recently as Friday.
Earp has indicated support for Currie but has not said clearly which way he’d push his county’s state committee people.
This much is clear: Juliano’s endorsement is a big boost for Currie, and Murphy knows it.
“First of all, Paul is off to an incredible start. I’ve known him many years, but as chair, he’s off to a great start. Second, it’s a big deal for me. It means a lot. I know it does for Chairman Currie,” Murphy said. “I think when the chairman of Bergen County Dems says something and does something like that, it’s a big deal, and I’m humbled by that.”