Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones said he does not intend to challenge the nominating petitions of Awais Qazi and Steve Poveda.
The two candidates are running against Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin and Shanique Speight.
“It’s always refreshing to have younger people eager to serve. So given that, I have no doubt that they’ll be victorious in the primary elections, but I’m not at all looking to challenge petitions,” Jones said. “I think democracy is a healthy thing. I think folks certainly deserve choices, and those choices will be Eliana and Shanique.”
Poveda and Qazi filed their nominating petitions with 102 and 118 signatures, respectively.
A challenge to their nominating petitions, which were filed separately, could knock them below the 100-signature threshold needed to get on the ballot for June’s primary elections.
Speight and Pintor Marin, running as a team, filed their petitions with 869 signatures.
While the Essex County Democratic machine is one of the most efficient in the state, Pintor Marin’s role as budget chair could cut into her time on the campaign trail.
Still, Jones said he expected that role to be a boon instead of a burden.
“If you’re doing that job while you’re out there talking about why you should be elected, that’s the enabler and that helps the voter decide who’s real and who’s not and who should be their representative and who shouldn’t,” Jones said. “Incumbents have that challenge, and if you’re in this game and you’re up to that challenge, you should be able to deliver both governance and participate in the political process.”
Republicans John Anello and Jeanette Veras, who is making her third run for Assembly in the district in as many cycles, filed their petitions with 143 signatures.
Though that figure almost certainly leaves them safe from petition challenges, it doesn’t do much to improve their prospects in the general election.
Voters in the 29th district have not sent a Republican to the state legislature since the state adopted the 40-district map in 1973.
Pintor Marin won re-election in 2017 by 39 points. Speight won her first term in the Assembly that same year by 37 points.