Mollie Binotto, a New Jersey-born top national political operative who ran Mikie Sherrill’s 2018 race for Congress, will serve as campaign manager for Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign.
Murphy is seeking to become the first Democratic governor to win re-election in New Jersey since 1977. He announced in October that he plans to seek a second term on a ticket with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.
“Mollie is a veteran of local, state, and national campaigns, with two cycles of New Jersey political experience, and I know she brings the right mix of experience, skills, and vision to the role,” said Murphy. “Over the past three years, we’ve worked hard to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey and move our state forward. I know Mollie has the determination and drive to lead a successful reelection effort and help Sheila and I continue our important work into a second term.”
George Helmy, Murphy’s chief of staff, is expected to play an outsized role in the Murphy campaign, along with some gubernatorial staffers.
“Mollie Binotto is one of the brightest political talents in the United States. She understands what it takes to build a winning coalition that inspires and unites,” Sherrill told the New Jersey Globe. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that she is coming back to Jersey and taking the helm of the Governor’s re-elect.”
When Binotto joined the fledgling Sherrill campaign in 2017, the Republican incumbent was House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, a 12-term incumbent in New Jersey’s 11th District.
The first few months of the campaign Binotto ran frightened Frelinghuysen into retirement. Sherrill won 77% in the Democratic primary and 57% in the general election to flip the 11th to the Democratic column for the first time in 34 years.
For her work on that campaign, Binotto was the New Jersey Globe Operative of the Year in 2018.
Oliver called Binotto “the right person to help build an effective campaign that mobilizes voters across all 21 counties.
“I know she’ll work collaboratively with county and municipal chairs, grassroots activists, volunteers, and community and faith leaders to build support for our campaign for a second term,” she said.
The 35-year-old spent the last two years at Emily’s List as the director for western federal and gubernatorial campaigns. She ran the Iowa Democratic Coordinated Campaign in 2016 and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s re-election campaign in 2013.
Zimmer won a decisive 47%-35% win over then-Assemblyman Ruben Ramos to secure re-election to a second term.
The Murphy re-election reunited Binotto with Dan Bryan, now the governor’s senior advisor who was serving as Zimmer’s chief of staff in 2013.
“I’m honored and excited to serve as Campaign Manager for Governor’s Murphy re-election campaign,” said Binotto. “From passing a millionaire’s tax to increasing funding for our public schools to expanding paid family leave, Governor Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Oliver have kept their promise of building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every family. I look forward to helping them continue their important work in a second term by building a diverse, inclusive, and victorious campaign that reaches out to voters all across New Jersey.”
Binotto has worked on campaigns for Barack Obama in 2008, the Nevada Democratic Party (for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) in 2010, and Alaska U.S. Senator Mark Begich in 2012. She was also a U.S. Senate staffer for Jon Testa (D-Montana) and on campaigns in Maryland and Virginia.
In the Virginia race, Binotto nearly flipped a State Senate seat that Republicans had held since 1986. He candidate, Daniel Gecker, came within 1,478 votes of defeating Republican Glen Sturdivant for an open seat.
As a field organizer for Obama in Montana, Binotto saw a state that typically goes Republican in national elections become suddenly competitive. At one point in October, A Montana State University-Billings poll showed Obama leading Republican John McCain by four points, 44%%-40%. With no paid staff in the state, McCain had to scramble to compete for Montana’s 3 electoral votes and secured an 11,723-vote plurality.