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Prominent Democrats rally for Assemblyman Gordon Johnson's Senate bid. (Photo: Courtesy of Gordon Johnson for Senate)

Top Democrats boost Johnson in campaign’s waning days

By Nikita Biryukov, June 07 2021 4:57 am

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson’s bid for State Senate got a boost from some of the state’s most prominent Democrats Sunday.

Johnson is locked in a tight primary against longtime running mate Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who is challenging the fellow incumbent to succeed Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who is not seeking re-election this year.

A spate of prominent Democratic officials rallied for Johnson Sunday, including Weinberg, Murphy and Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, a Democrat known for his proclivity for retail campaigning.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) were there too, as were Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

The assemblyman and his running mates, former Tenafly Councilwoman Shama Haider and former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman Ellen Park, are making their bids for state office on the Bergen County Democratic line, while Huttle, Teaneck Councilwoman Gervonn Romney Rice and Tenafly Councilwoman Lauren Kohn Dayton are running as outsiders.

The competing slate isn’t without its own advantages. They were better funded through May 7, and they have a spate of unions helping to knock doors in the waning days of the primary. As an incumbent, Huttle also has name recognition unavailable to most progressive challengers.

Johnson, however, is getting a boost from outside groups with ties to Operating Engineers Local 825 and South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross.

Those groups have not filed disclosures with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement commission, so it’s unclear how much they’ve put behind Johnson’s bid, though they’re not short of resources.

Either way, Johnson feels good about his chances.

“It’s hard not to feel great, with the enthusiasm and support we are receiving across the district and throughout the state but we are not taking a single thing for granted,” he said. “With just two days left, we are keeping our heads down and trying to finish this campaign the way we began it — in the community, speaking with the people, and fighting for every last vote.”

The winner of Tuesday’s primary is all but assured to win election in the heavily-Democratic district in November.

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