Home>Campaigns>NJEA makes early endorsements in some legislative races, setting up early money

Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

NJEA makes early endorsements in some legislative races, setting up early money

Teacher’s union not taking sides in Codey vs. Gill primary

By David Wildstein, April 26 2023 7:02 pm

Early endorsements from New Jersey’s largest public employee union went to Democrats in some of the state’s most politically competitive legislative districts – and in some Democrats in safe districts — allowing the New Jersey Education Association PAC to make early financial contributions.

The NJEA is backing State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, for re-election to a third term in the 11th district, along with two Democratic Assembly challengers: Ocean Township Councilwoman Margie Donlon and former Asbury Park Municipal Court Judge Luanne Peterpaul, who are seeing to unseat GOP incumbents Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) and Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury).

The influential union also endorsed State Sen.  Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough), and Democrat Mitchelle Drulis in the 16th, and State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus), Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield) in the 38th.

“By acting early in these key races, we will have more time to do the grassroots work needed to elect our endorsed candidates.  And our endorsement comes with our commitment to do that work,” said NJEA President Sean Spiller in a joint statement with his union leadership.  “Every candidate endorsed in this first round has proven they deserve the support of NJEA members.”

Endorsements from the NJEA also went to nine Democrats in Hudson County, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian P.  Stack (D-Union City) in the 33rd, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) in the 32nd, and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) in the 31st.  Stack and Mukherji are unopposed; McKnight faces a minimal primary challenger.

The NJEA is backing two Middlesex County state senators with nominal primary opponents, Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) and Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge).

But the union appears to be staying out of some Democratic primaries, including the incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchup between two longtime state senators, Richard Codey (D-Roseland) and Nia Gill (D-Montclair), in the 27th district.   There were also no endorsements for two Assembly incumbents with primary fights, John McKeon (D-West Orange) and Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark).

The NJEA has also not endorsed in the 20th district, where State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union), Assembly Majority Conference Leader Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth), and Assemblyman Reginald Atkins (D-Roselle) face primaries related to the candidacy of former Assemblyman Jamel Holley for mayor of Roselle.

The teacher’s union has not precluded getting involved in these races.

“We look forward to more endorsements in the coming weeks and months as we work to build a legislative majority that shares our values, respects our profession, and is committed to the success of our students,” Spiller, Vice President Steve Beatty, and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robinson said.

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