Longtime Fort Lee Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky is close to entering the race for the Democratic nomination for State Assembly in the 37th district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Kasofsky is expected to announce her Assembly bid late this week, unless incumbent Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) decides to drop her run for State Senate and remain in the lower house.
While the filing deadline to run at the March 15 Bergen Democratic convention is February 23, some party leaders are growing impatient in a desire for clarity in the Assembly race.
The New Jersey Globe reported that Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) has secured enough votes to win the Bergen County Democratic organization line for Loretta Weinberg’s State Senate seat. That doesn’t mean Huttle can’t win off the line in the June Democratic primary.
So far, Palisades Park Mayor Christopher Chung and Teaneck Democratic Municipal Chair Alexandra Soriano-Taveras are seeking one Assembly seat that they anticipate will be vacated by either Johnson or Vainieri Huttle.
But once Kasofsky gets in the race, it could create a fight for Vainieri Huttle to retain her Assembly seat if she wants back in, Democratic insiders have said.
That could be posturing to push Vainieri Huttle into backing down from her Senate bid.
Vainieri Huttle pushed back on the threat of a challenge for her Assembly seat.
“The stakes are too high for people to be playing chicken with public office. I am not threatened and I will not be silenced. It is really sad that in 2021 some people think threatening women in power still works. The arrogance and entitlement that I have experienced throughout this process is disturbing,” Vainieri Huttle said. “Let’s let the democratic process play out, or is that what they’re scared of?”
The 66-year-old Kasofsky, who has served as a councilwoman since 2002, would have the support of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the NJ Globe is told.
She is a member of county chairman Paul Juliano’s leadership team as the secretary of the Bergen County Democratic Organization.
This story was updated at 4:26 PM with comment from Vainieri Huttle.