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New Jersey PBA president Patrick Colligan.

NJ PBA releases 2019 endorsements

Union backs split ticket in LD8

By Nikita Biryukov, September 17 2019 12:37 pm

There were few surprises in the list of endorsements the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association released Tuesday.

The police union endorsed incumbents in most of the state’s districts and usually endorsed candidates of a single party in a given district, though they split their endorsements or chose to endorse only a single candidate in some of New Jersey’s most competitive races.

In the eighth legislative district, where Assemblyman Ryan Peters is running with former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield after Assemblyman Joe Howarth lost an off-the-line primary bid, the union backed Peters and former Assembly staffer Gina LaPlaca, a Democrat.

LaPlaca is running with Mark Natale in what promises to be one of the year’s tightest races.

In the 25th legislative district, the PBA endorsed only Assemblyman Anthony Bucco.

It’s unclear what caused the union to pass over Denville Councilman Brian Bergen and his Democratic opponents Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani.

Bucco is likely to move up the State Senate seat left vacant by the death of his father, State Sen. Tony Bucco.

That chain of events would leave the PBA without an endorsed candidate in the 25th district.

The union backed Republican incumbents in the 21st legislative districts.

There, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz face challenges from Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.

The PBA backed the entire Democratic slate in the first legislative district, which will host the year’s only State Senate race.

State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak faces Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa in his bid to win the remainder of Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s unexpired term.

Andrzejczak’s Assembly running mates, incumbents Bruce Land and Matt Milam, face challenges from Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen and Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan.

Assemblymen Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker, both Democrats, won the union’s backing in the 16th district, where they face challengers from Mark Caliguire and Christine Madrid, who are both former mayors of Montgomery Township.

The same was true of the 11th district’s Democratic incumbents. Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling have the PBA’s backing there. They face Michael Amoroso and Matthew Wooley in the general.

The union backed only one candidate in the second legislative district. Assemblyman John Armato has the endorsement there. He and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo face challenges from John Risley Jr. and Philip Guenther.

The PBA chose to only back Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce in the 26th district. DeCroce and Assemblyman Jay Webber face challenges from Laura Fortgang and Christine Clarke.

The union endorsed at least one incumbent in each of the state’s legislative districts with little obvious regard for party alignment.

“We have listened to our membership and we are confident that these candidates for the General Assembly represent the leadership we need in Trenton,” PBA President Pat Colligan said. “Members of law enforcement have chosen to protect communities throughout our great state and we believe in the importance of having strong, capable legislators willing to fight for our brothers and sisters.”

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