Steve Sweeney appears to have the votes locked in to remain as Senate President through 2023 after securing key endorsements from Democratic senators in Middlesex County, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
South Jersey Democrats will support Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin for re-election, keeping the two legislative leaders in office for another three years.
Four Democratic senators from Middlesex – Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), Robert Smith (D-Piscataway), Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) and Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) – along with Joseph Cryan (D-Union), committed tonight back Sweeney’s re-election.
Twelve Democratic Assembly members from South Jersey will back Coughlin, joining the six-member Bergen County delegation that endorsed the speaker earlier today.
Middlesex became the second county to back Sweeney following endorsements from three Bergen County senators on Tuesday.
A New Jersey Globe tally puts Sweeney and Coughlin at a clear majority of their Democratic caucuses, making a path to oust them impossible – assuming the legislators seek and win re-election next year.
The agreement between Middlesex and South Jersey ends speculation that Sweeney, the longest-serving Senate President in New Jersey history, would face a serious challenge to win a seventh term after next year’s legislative elections. It also puts the kibosh on any hope that Gov. Phil Murphy might be dealing with a different Senate leader if he wins re-election next year.
Coughlin ousted Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto after the 2017 election.