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Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Johnson, Haider, Park win in the 37th district

By Joey Fox, November 02 2021 8:03 pm

The New Jersey Globe is projecting that Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) has been elected to the 37th legislative district’s Senate seat, and that Shama Haider and Ellen Park have won their first terms in the Assembly.

They defeated Republicans Michael Koontz, Perley Patrick, and Edward Durfee, the last of whom is a member of the anti-government militia group Oath Keepers

The district’s Senate seat is currently held by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), a giant in Bergen County politics and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2009. Weinberg’s retirement set off a furious contest between Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) after the pair had served in the Assembly together for more than 15 years.

Johnson won the support of the county line and of Weinberg, and although Huttle continued campaigning as a progressive outsider, she lost by a lopsided 72-28% margin. Johnson’s slate – Haider is the chairwoman of the Tenafly Democratic Party and Park is a former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman – also easily defeated a Huttle-aligned slate of Assembly candidates.

Park and Haider’s victories means they’ll be among the first-ever Asian American women to serve in the legislature; Sadaf Jaffer, running in the more competitive 16th district, may also join their ranks.

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