The New Providence Democratic Committee is recommending Stacey Gunderman and Jill LaZare for State Assembly in the 21st district, although the pick is not binding since only about a third of the municipal committee was in attendance.
Two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the local party voiced a preference for Gunderman and LaZare as the candidates to challenge incumbents Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) in the fall.
Gunderman is also the New Providence Democratic municipal chair and has two votes at a screening committee tomorrow evening that will vote to pick the candidates who are on the organization line.
It is not immediately clear who Gunderman supports for the second seat. The absence of a quorum at tonight’s meeting gives her the option of not voting for LaZare, who got swamped in races against Bramnick and Munoz in 2013 and 2015, and against Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) in 2017.
The preference of top party officials appears to be Gunderman and Lisa Mandelblatt, an attorney and teacher who ran for Congress last year before dropping out to endorse Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill).
But the screening committee of municipal chairs from the ten municipalities in the 21st district have the final authority to decide which candidates run on the line.
The race to take on Bramnick and Munoz has attracted an unusually large field of candidates in a district that Democrats have not won since 1989.
Also seeking party support: Carlos Gomez, a union leader and EMT; Goutam Jois, who won 14% of the vote against Malinowski in last year’s primary; Ileana Montes, a former director of the state Division on Women under Gov. Jon Corzine; and Kyla Rodgers, a 26-year-old progressive activist.
There are reports of bad weather tomorrow, which could delay a vote. That’s what happened last year when the screening committee was postponed after a snowstorm. Malinowski defeated Linda Weber by one-vote to secure the Union organization line.
The deciding vote in that race was cast by Garwood Democratic municipal chair Hugh Sinclair, who also has votes in the 21st district contest.