Democrats in Hackensack and Palisades Park are moving toward Gordon Johnson for State Senate in the 37th district, with endorsements from party leaders that could mean as many as 82 votes at the Bergen County Democratic convention that awards the organization line in March.
The two assembly members from the 37th, Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, are facing off for the Senate seat that opened up last week with the announcement that Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg will retire.
“I’m going to support Gordon Johnson,” said Lynne Hurwitz, the longtime Hackensack Democratic municipal chair with a reputation of strong control over her 50 county committee members.
Hurwitz said that she’s half-way through her call sheet.
“Everybody is in agreement,” she said.
Palisades Park, which has 18 county committee votes, has also made their decision.
“We will endorse Assemblyman Gordon Johnson,” said Mayor Christopher Chung.
Johnson picked up the endorsement of Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes on Monday morning. He received the support of Northvale Democratic leaders on Sunday.
Wildes has control of the local Democratic committee after wrestling it away from a faction backing his predecessor, former Mayor Frank Huttle. Huttle, who left the post in 2018, is married to Vainieri Huttle. Englewood has 32 votes at the convention, although Johnson will not necessarily get all of them.
Northvale has six votes.
If all seats are filled, there are 262 votes in the 37th district portion of the county. That puts the magic number to win the line for Senate at 132.
Between Hackensack, Englewood, Palisades Park and Northvale, Johnson could be as high as 106 votes.
Vainieri Huttle said that Democrats should not unnecessarily accelerate the process.
“I am confident that when the votes are tallied and all the candidates have made their case, I will win the convention. Let’s not rush the process, our local committee members deserve the opportunity to hear from the candidates on their records, platform and plans,” Vainieri Huttle said. “With a decision this important, I believe that every vote counts and every stakeholder should be given the ability to vet the candidates for themselves.”
This story was updated at 8:27 PM with comment from Vainieri Huttle.