Home>Campaigns>Planned Parenthood endorses 97 Democrats, taking sides in all key legislative races

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Planned Parenthood endorses 97 Democrats, taking sides in all key legislative races

Democrats counting on Dobbs decision to boost turnout in off-year elections

By Ricky Suta, September 13 2023 12:00 pm

Democrats view abortion rights as pivotal to mobilizing their base in low-turnout, off-year legislative elections, especially as Republicans look to rouse voters on issues like gender identity and offshore wind farms.

To boost the chances of Democrats retaining their majorities in the State Senate and General Assembly, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey today endorsed 97 Democrats running for the legislature; No Republicans received their support.

The endorsements were clearest in the state’s most competitive districts. In the 3rd, 4th, 11th, and 16th districts, Planned Parenthood backed every single Democratic legislative candidate.

In this critical election year, the future of reproductive freedom in New Jersey hangs in the balance,” said Jackie Cornell, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “PPAFNJ is proud to endorse these 97 candidates who are committed to protecting the rights of all to make their own health care decisions. We are confident that these endorsed candidates will champion reproductive freedom.”

These include: State Senate candidate John Burzichelli and Assembly candidates Heather Simmons and Dave Bailey Jr. in the 3rd; Assemblyman and State Senate candidate Paul Moriarty (D-) and Assembly Candidates Cody Miller and Dan Hutchinson in the 4th; State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Assembly candidates Luanne Peterpaul and Dr. Margie Donlon in the 11th; and State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-Hillsborough), Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-South Brunswick) and Assembly candidate Mitchelle Drulis in the 16th.

“Planned Parenthood has always been on the frontline of protecting a woman’s right to choose, and I am incredibly grateful to earn their support,” Zwicker said.   “After Dobbs, it’s more important than ever for us to elect leaders who are fierce advocates for reproductive freedom. When re-elected this November, I will fight to ensure that New Jersey continues to set the national example for what it means to protect abortion and reproductive care for our families.”

Planned Parenthood also backed only Democrats – but not all of them – in the 2nd, 8th, 14th, and 38th districts.

Democrats who received the endorsement include: State Senate candidate Caren Fitzpatrick and Assembly candidates Lisa Bender and Alphonso Harrell in the 2nd; Assembly candidates Anthony Angelozzi and Andrea Katz in the 8th; State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Assembly candidate Tennille McCoy in the 14th; and State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus), Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn), and Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield)) in the 38th.

As expected, Planned Parenthood skipped Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), a pro-life Democrat running for re-election in the 14th.  He and another Democrat, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) abstained from last year’s vote to codify Roe V. Wade into state law.

While Schaer was not endorsed, his running mates, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-Cliffside Park were

The group expected to continue to make endorsements, especially given that this past month has seen several candidate changes.  That could pave the way for North Brunswick Councilman Kevin Egan in the 17th and Livingston Councilwoman Rosy Bagolie in the 27th.  Both recently joined the race.

Egan, who is pro-choice, is replacing his father, Assemblyman Joseph Egan (D-New Brunswick), a pro-life Democrat who decided to retire after the primary election.  Three other pro-life Democratic lawmakers – State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington Township), Assemblywoman Gabriella Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township), and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (D-Montclair) – are not seeking re-election.

In the heavily Republican 24th district the group endorsed Democrat Edmund Khanoo, the former CFO of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey, for the State Senate against pro-life Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage).  But no endorsements were made in the Assembly contest, where Khanoo’s wife, Alicia Sharma, is the Democratic nominee against two pro-life Republicans.

In a joint statement, Gopal, Donlon and Peterpaul said that the endorsement “signals to Monmouth County that we are, and always will be, the team that stands up for women and their freedom to choose.”

“As we see extreme state legislatures across the country enact egregious, irresponsible, and dangerous laws that roll back freedoms for women, Monmouth County needs pro-choice leaders in the legislature to protect the freedom to choose for generations to come,”they said.  “We are the pro-choice team in the LD-11 race and will never back down in this fight.”

The majority of Democrats, though, continue to believe that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will energize their base and attract independents. Indeed, the Democratic campaigns in the competitive 16th and 38th districts have already released ads that highlight their abortion rights bona fides.

Abortion rights have given Democrats across the country a string of, perhaps surprising, electoral victories, with voters in red states such as Kansas, Montana, and Ohio largely rejecting anti-abortion proposals, since Roe was overturned.

Democrats in New Jersey need these trends to continue this November.

“Protecting a woman’s reproductive health is a human right and paramount to the progression of our society,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson). “Planned Parenthood plays a vital role in providing women with the educational tools and health care they need to thrive. As of 2022, the two Planned Parenthood affiliates in New Jersey had over 132,000 patient visits. I stand with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey and together we will continue to fight for women.”

Senate President Nicholas Scutari praised Planned Parenthood for their role in providing accress to health care.

“While we watch in horror as some states around the country are dismantling the right to reproductive freedom, New Jersey remains steadfast in its commitment to women’s rights,” he said. “I’m proud to rally alongside Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey and the other endorsed candidates as we work to reject conservative extremists who would expand red-state policies into New Jersey.”

This story was updated at 12:18 PM. 

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