A fervent critic of Cory Booker, Tom Malinowski, and Phil Murphy has won the endorsement of the Morris County Democratic organization in a bid for an open State Assembly seat in the 24th district.
Veronica Fernandez ran as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020 and for Congress in 2021 and supported Green Party gubernatorial candidate Madelyn Hoffman against Murphy in 2021.
While Fernandez is a sacrificial lamb in perhaps the most conservative district in the state – she’ll receive no party support in the general election – it’s odd that Democrats wanted someone who repeatedly hammered Booker and Malinowski on social media.
“Malinowski traded millions during the pandemic and was referred for Ethics Investigation. I think he paid (a) $200 fine,” Fernandez said last year. “He’s under (an) ethics investigation related to trades made during the pandemic.”
Before she dropped out of the race at the end of August, Fernandez had said campaign finance reform was her number one issue and echoed some of the same attacks against Malinowski that Republicans were using.
Fernandez smacked Malinowski for not supporting Medicare for All, criticized him at a Town Hall meeting for refusing to debate her, and slammed him for taking financial support from the House Majority PAC.
“They are a ‘dark money’ group,” she said. “If our Congressman truly supports campaign finance reform, he will tell party leadership to stop running these ads on his behalf.”
She said she entered the 7th district race against Malinowski and Tom Kean, Jr. because she was “tired of the lesser of two evils” and “fed up with endless broken campaign promises.”
Fernandez was even more rabid in her attacks on Booker, saying he “went from progressive hero to traitor.”
“Cory Booker is a real friend of Wall Street. We have to get our policymakers making policy for us again,” Fernandez stated. “Let’s fire Cory Booker and all the special interests and big donors that stop us from having better lives.”
She also criticized Booker’s missed votes while seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“New Jersey is just not a priority for Cory Booker. He would much rather be President,” said Fernandez. “If you can’t be president, vice president, or (a cabinet) member, how about Senator? New Jersey deserves reps who will be there for us at all times. We are nobody’s 4th choice.”
Democrats approved Fernandez because they had no one else, three Morris Democratic leaders told the New Jersey Globe. Still, the Democrats said they remain bothered by Fernandez’s attacks on Malinowski in a tough election.
Fernandez had lost races for the Washington Township Committee in western Morris County as a Democrat, losing in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She received 0.73% of the statewide vote against Booker, with less than one percent of the vote in her hometown.
The 24th district has more registered Republicans than any other district in the state, with 31,172 more Republicans than Democrats, and is one of two districts in the state where Republicans outnumber unaffiliated voters. The district hasn’t elected a Democrat to the New Jersey Legislature since 1973 when Robert Shelton (D-Ogdensburg) unseated Republican Assemblyman Walter Keough-Dwyer (R-Vernon) in the anti-Republican Watergate wave.
Morris County Democrats picked Edmund Khanoo, a former Planned Parenthood finance executive, to run for the open State Senate seat. With the fight for the GOP nomination likely over, Khanoo is expected to face Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage) for the seat of retiring Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho.
Khanoo’s wife, Alicia Sharma, received party support for the Assembly seat. She lost bids for the Mount Olive Township Council in 2021 and for Morris County Commissioner in 2022.
Six Republicans are seeking the two open Assembly seats – Republican Hal Wirths (R-Wantage) is not seeking re-election.