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The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 has endorsed Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick for re-election to his 21st district seat, but is staying clear of some of New Jersey’s most heavily-watched legislative races.
Local 825 is one of the most potent endorsements in the state, since their support comes with votes, grass roots organization, and money. They have a well-funded super PAC with the potential to inject serious money into local races.
The process of picking candidates for this year reflects incumbent records on the 2016 gas tax increase, as well as heavy consideration of views on energy issues in a year when a new state energy master plan is in the works, the union said.
“We’re excited to support candidates who back organized labor and recognize the importance of infrastructure investment in a challenging and all-or-nothing political environment,” said Greg Lalevee, Business Manager of IUOE 825.
Lavalee, a powerful labor leader who was recently re-elected to another three-year term that puts in him charge of Local 825 endorsements for the next few election cycles, said the Operating Engineers endorsements “are a reflection of where candidate’s positions are in relation to our important issues.”
“We took a hard look at the records, public statements and candidates’ positions on the issues critical to operating engineers: infrastructure investment and support for the Transportation Trust Fund re-authorization, expansion of clean natural gas infrastructure and the role it plays as we diversify our energy mix, and protecting our ability to organize and put members to work,” said Lavalee.
While Bramnick (R-Westfield) won the endorsement, the Operating Engineers did not endorse the other Republican incumbent, Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), or either of the Democratic challengers.
There were no also no endorsements in the 8th and 25th districts, where Democrats stand the best chance of picking up Assembly seats in the mid-term elections against incumbents Ryan Peters (R-Hainsesport) and Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton). There are open seats in both of those districts.
In the only State Senate race of the cycle, the union is not taking sides in the 1st district fight between incumbent Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) and Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa, Jr. This is a special election for the unexpired term of Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), who left the Senate earlier this year to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The union took a pass on the Assembly race as well.
The Operating Engineers are backing incumbent John Armato (D-Buena) for re-election, but made no pick for the other seat where three-term legislator Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) is seeking re-election.
There were no endorsements in two districts where Democratic incumbents are favored but potentially vulnerable: district 11, where Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold) are seeking third terms; and the 16th district, where Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) are seeking third and second terms, respectively.
In addition to Bramnick, Local 825 endorsed five Republican incumbents: Hal Wirths (R-Wantage), a former state Labor Commissioner; BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany); Sean Kean (R-Wall); Ned Thompson (R-Wall); and Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff).
Some veteran Democrats failed to win the Operating Engineers endorsement, including Pamela Lampitt (D-Cherry Hill), the running mate of Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Voorhees).
Greenwald was endorsed, along with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
In all, 24 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election this year did not win the endorsement of the powerful union.
The Operating Engineers also endorsed two Republicans for Burlington County Freeholder, including incumbent Latham Tiver, a Local 825 official.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo was endorsed in his bid for re-election as Mayor of Wood-Ridge.Operating Engineers 825 NJ Endorsement 2019 Final