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Assemblyman John McKeon. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Three top Murphy legislative allies staying out of state chair race

McKeon, Jasey, Codey not picking a side

By Nikita Biryukov, December 09 2019 3:59 pm

Three of Gov. Phil Murphy’s closest allies in the legislature are steering clear of the fight for control of the Democratic State Committee between incumbent John Currie and Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones.

“I don’t have a vote. I respect and admire them both. LeRoy’s a personal friend and someone I’ve known for 40 years,” Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) said. “The work John does, I think, is extraordinary, and I hope things work out, but I don’t have a vote.”

McKeon and his running mates, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) and former Gov. Richard Codey (D-Roseland), a state senator, all demurred on whether they’d pick a side in the race.

The race between incumbent State Chairman John Currie and Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones is widely seen as a proxy fight between Murphy and South Jersey Democrats backed by powerbroker George Norcross.

Currie, a staunch Murphy ally, has the governor’s backing, while Jones has the backing of Essex, Middlesex, Ocean, Union and six South Jersey counties.

A New Jersey Globe tally of the race has Jones leading the incumbent 55-43. The magic number to win is 49 ½ votes.

Many lawmakers have opted to steer clear of the fight publicly.

“No,” Jasey said when asked if she’d pick a side. “I hope I don’t have to.”

The three represent portions of Essex County.

Codey, at the least, indicated he’d like to see the infighting come to an end.

“Let’s see how it plays out,” he said. “I’d like to see Democrats coming together.”

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