Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp today clearly signaled his intention to support Democratic state chairman John Currie for re-election but stopped short of issuing a unswerving endorsement, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Earp’s move potentially adds six Ocean County votes into Currie’s column and follows the announcement earlier this week that Somerset County Democratic chair Peg Schaffer would become the new state party vice chair and run on a ticket with Currie in the upcoming state committee vote.
The Ocean County Democratic leader was clear in his endorsement of Gov. Phil Murphy for re-election.
“As an elected Democratic County Chair I understand the critical importance of having a strong, united New Jersey Democratic State Committee as we move towards the vital tasks of expanding our legislative majorities, defeating President Trump, re-electing our Democratic members of Congress and re-electing Governor Murphy,” Earp said in a written statement. “With the recent appointment of Peg Schaffer as NJDSC Vice Chair, I am as excited about our prospects this year and going forward as I have ever been. She clearly ads a tremendous unifying force.”
In his statement, Earp hints at an endorsement.
“I look forward to working with her and Chairman Currie to continue engaging with more voters, expanding the electorate, training the next generation of leaders and electing Democrats up and down the ballot and across the state,” he said.
Reached by the Globe, Earp declined to comment beyond his statement.
In January, Earp declined to take sides in the state party leadership contest between Currie and Essex County Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr.
Yesterday, Earp told Murphy that he would support the Currie-Schaffer team when the state committee votes later this year, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Earp is the president of the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Central Labor Union and had been expected to ultimately side with Senate President Steve Sweeney, who is backing Jones.
Murphy spent time with Currie, Schaffer and Hudson County Democratic chair Amy DeGise at a regional meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Jersey City earlier today.
Schaffer has replaced Lizette Delgado-Polanco, who resigned this week.
The six votes from Ocean and three additional votes from Somerset appear to put the race for state chairman in a dead heat.
The magic number to win a race for New Jersey Democratic State Chairman is 49 ½ votes.
The Democratic State Committee has a total of 98 votes, although some state committee members are elected with half-votes. Democrats allocate state committee seats by population, while Republicans give a flat two seats to each of the state’s 21 counties.
Earlier this month, Paul Juliano — expected to succeed Louis Stellato as Bergen County Democratic chairman, also endorsed Murphy for re-election to a second term.