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Jefferson Democratic Municipal Chair Christine Clarke. (Photo: Christine Clarke).

Teacher union backs Clarke for Senate in LD-26

By David Wildstein, August 30 2021 9:55 am

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey has endorsed Democrat Christine Clarke for State Senate in the 26th district State Senate race.

Clarke, the Jefferson Democratic municipal chair and an environmental activist, is challenging four-term Senate Minority Whip Joseph Pennacchio.

“Christine Clarke will be a leader who believes workplace safety standards should be extended to all schools and their personnel. She understands these standards should be permanent, not implemented just for the pandemic,” said Donna M. Chiera, the AFTNJ president.  “As we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, Clarke is advocating it is done by investing in a clean-energy economy, which means good-paying union jobs with prevailing wage agreements.”

The New Jersey Education Association has also endorsed Clarke.

The Morris County-based 26th district, which includes parts of Essex and Passaic counties, has been reliably Republican.  Donald Trump carried the district by three percentage point in 2020 and has 12,819 more Republicans than Democrats.

In 2017, Pennacchio was re-elected by 7,402 votes, 56.5%-42.5%, over Democrat Elliot Isibor.

The 26th has not elected a Democrat since Assemblyman John Sinsimer (D-Pompton Lakes) won a second term in the 1973 Watergate landslide.  Republicans won the State Senate seat and the other Assembly seat in the 26th that year.

Sinsimer lost to Republican Dean Gallo, a future congressman, in 1975.

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