Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and powerbroker George Norcross will continue a summer tour of meetings with Democratic lawmakers from Bergen, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic Somerset and Union counties.
The expanded schedule will follow a similar gathering in Hudson County last week with Sweeney, Greenwald and Norcross meeting with eight legislators to, as Norcross, put it, “keep the lines of communication open.”
The informal meet-and-greets are widely viewed as the early stages of a bid by Sweeney to capture the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.
The presence of Norcross on the road trips signals an acknowledgement that the next gubernatorial campaign has already begun, with 204 weeks until the June 3, 2025 primary election.
Democrats will need a gubernatorial candidate one way or the other in four years. If Gov. Phil Murphy is re-elected, he’ll be term-limited; if Republican Jack Ciattarelli beats him, Democrats will be looking to recapture the governor’s office.
The last time Democrats won three consecutive gubernatorial elections was in 1961, party leaders coalesced behind Richard J. Hughes, a Superior Court Judge and former Mercer County Democratic Chairman.
Hughes defeated Republican James Mitchell, who had served as U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Dwight Eisenhower, by a narrow 50.4%-48.7% margin. He succeeded two-term Gov. Robert Meyner, a Democrats.