Verona Democratic municipal chair Laura Fortgang today formally launched her bid for the New Jersey State Assembly today with endorsements from two Democratic county chairs and an announcement that Mollie Binotto will serve as her campaign chair.
Fortgang is challenging the two 26th district incumbents, Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany). She is expected to run with Christine Clarke, the environmental director for Action Together New Jersey and the Jefferson Democratic municipal chair.
Binotto was the campaign manager for Mikie Sherrill’s successful bid to flip the 11th district congressional seat against Webber last year. She was the New Jersey Globe 2018 Operative of the Year.
“Laura Fortgang is not only a determined and effective community leader, but she’s a wonderful person,” said Morris County Democratic chairman Chip Robinson. “I’m thrilled with the caliber and qualifications of our LD 26 candidates this year.”
“I’m a big fan of Laura’s. I love her spirit, her commitment to community service. She will be a wonderful legislator and advocate for the people in this district,” Essex County Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones said.
Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie has not weighed in on the race yet. The district includes West Milford.
The 26th has 14,866 more Republicans than Democrats, although Webber lost the 11th district towns in the 26th legislative district by more than 6,000 votes in his 2018 congressional race against Democrat Mikie Sherrill.
Democrats have not won the 26th since 1973, when John Sinsimer (D-Pompton Lakes) won in the Watergate landslide. Sinsimer was unseated in 1975 by Dean Gallo, then a Morris County freeholder from Parsippany.
Parsippany mayor Michael Soriano has also endorsed her candidacy.
“I’m incredibly excited to support Laura Fortgang for State Assembly in 2019. Laura’s professional background and tireless energy will be a great contribution to our Democratic majority caucus. and, I know that Laura will be a committed partner to Parsippany at the state level,” Soriano said.
Fortgang ran for Assembly in 2017 but lost the Democratic primary by a 2-1 margin running off the organization line. She was elected municipal chair in 2018 after Teena Schwartz stepped down.
“I’ve lived in this district for 24 years; I’ve raised my family here, and I’ve seen some worrying changes. We’ve watched our taxes go up and the return on that investment diminish,” Fortang said. “New Jersey has the finest public schools in the country; we have developed life-saving medicines; our smart and tough workforce is part of the largest economic engine in the country, but thanks to a broken and entrenched system in Trenton, families like mine keep losing ground.”
Fortgang is a 25-year veteran in the personal coaching field. She is an author, public speaker and interfaith minister.
“My whole career I’ve worked with individuals and C-suite executives in fortune 100 companies, looking at the obstacles, seeing a problem from all sides, and working together to find the best path forward, Fortgang said. “I’ll bring these skills to the Assembly to make sure New Jersey continues to be a wonderful place to raise a family, and where people of all ages can afford to stay and thrive.”